Shade Ransomware is very active outside of Russia and targets more English-speaking victims

Pierluigi Paganini May 28, 2019

Experts at PaloAlto Networks spotted a new Shade ransomware campaigns targeting news countries, including in the U.S. and Japan.

Researchers observed a new wave of Shade ransomware attacks against targets in several countries, including the US and Japan.

Shade is considered one of the most dangerous threats in the cyber crime scenario, it has been active at least since 2014 when a massive infection was observed in Russian. The Shade infections increased during October 2018, keeping a constant trend until the second half of December 2018, taking a break around Christmas, and then resuming in mid-January 2019 doubled in size.

“Our results indicate the majority of recent Shade executables have also targeted users outside of Russia.” reads the analysis published by Paloalto Networks.

“In fact, our research shows that the top five countries affected by Shade ransomware are not Russia or nations of the former Soviet Union, they are the United States, Japan, India, Thailand, and Canada,” 

Moth of the victims belongs to high-tech, wholesale and education sectors.

Shade has been distributed through malspam campaigns and exploit kits, experts pointed out that its executable (EXE) remains “remarkably consistent” since its discovery in 2014.

Once a Windows system gets infected with this ransomware, the malicious code sets the desktop background to announce the infection. The ransomware also drops on the Desktop 10 text files, named README1.txt through README10.txt,

“Attention! All the important files on your disks were encrypted. The details can be found in README.txt files which you can find on any of your disks.” reads the message left on the background.

Shade Ransomware 2

The README.txt files include instructions to contact the crooks via an email address in order to receive information on how to make the payments.

The researchers noticed that all the Malspam campaigns spreading the Shade ransomware were retrieving an executable file from a compromised server.

“By focusing on the executable in this chain of events, we can determine where Shade ransomware infection attempts have occurred.” continues the report.

“AutoFocus has a Shade ransomware tag that identifies any items associated with Shade.” explains PaloAlto Networks. “We searched on attempted deliveries of a Shade ransomware executable during an infection chain, and we focused our search on packed executable (PE) files sent through a URL over TCP port 80.”

Experts discovered that most of the URLs hosting Shade ransomware executables were reported from customer devices outside of Russia and Russian language countries.

Technical details, including Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) are reported in the analysis published by the experts.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Shade, ransomware, malware)

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