HelloKitty ransomware now targets VMware ESXi servers

Pierluigi Paganini July 15, 2021

HelloKitty ransomware gang is using a Linux variant of their malware to target VMware ESXi virtual machine platform.

A Linux variant of the HelloKitty ransomware was employed in attacks against VMware ESXi systems.

The move of the ransomware gang aims at expanding the operations targeting enterprises that are largely adopting virtualizing platforms. Targeting VMware ESXi systems, threat actors could encrypt as many virtual machines as possible with a significant impact on the victims.

Researchers from MalwareHunterTeam spotted multiple Linux ELF64 versions of the HelloKitty ransomware designed to target VMware ESXi servers and encrypt virtual machines hosted on them.

BleepingComputer that first shared the news, analyzed samples of the new variant and confirmed that the malware attempts to shut down virtual machines running on the targeted servers in order to encrypt files, preventing the files from being locked.

“From the debug messages, we can see that the ransomware uses ESXi’s esxcli command-line management tool to list the running virtual machines on the server and then shut them down.” reported BleepingComputer.

Once the virtual machines are shut down, the ransomware will encrypt .vmdk (virtual hard disk), .vmsd (metadata and snapshot information), and .vmsn (contains the active state of the VM) files.

HelloKitty ransomware isn’t the only threat that targets ESXi servers, Babuk, RansomExx, Mespinoza, and DarkSide ransomware also implement this capability.

-in June MalwareHunterTeam researchers spotted a Linux version of the REvil ransomware that also targets ESXi platform.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, HelloKitty ransomware)

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