he BlackCat/ALPHV ransomware gang has attacked the American University of Antigua. The American University of Antigua (AUA) is a reputable institution located in St. John's, Antigua, in the Caribbean. It is primarily dedicated to medical education and offers a comprehensive Doctor of Medicine (MD) program. AUA is accredited by recognized accreditation bodies, ensuring that its educational programs meet established standards. As a medical school, AUA plays a crucial role in training future healthcare professionals, providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary for careers in various medical fields. Students at AUA have the opportunity to receive a quality medical education in a unique Caribbean setting. BlackCat/ALPHV posted the AUA to its data leak site on September 29th along with screenshots of the organization’s internal systems. First observed in late 2021, BlackCat/ALPHV is a RaaS that employs a well-developed RaaS platform that encrypts by way of an AES algorithm. The code is highly customizable and includes JSON configurations for affiliate customization. BlackCat/ALPHV has the ability to disable security tools and evade analysis and is probably the most advanced ransomware family at present capable of employing different encryption routines, advanced self-propagation, and hinders hypervisors to for obfuscations and anti-analysis. BlackCat/ALPHV can impact systems running Windows, VMWare ESXi and Linux (including Debian, ReadyNAS, Ubuntu, and Synology distributions). BlackCat/ALPHV became one of the more active RaaS platforms over the course of 2022, and attack volumes in Q1 2023 continued to increase although it was overtaken by Cl0p in number of attacks in Q1 2023. BlackCat/ALPHV typically demands ransoms in the $400,000 to $3 million range but has exceeded $5 million. BlackCat/ALPHV is the first ransomware group using Rust, a secure programming language that offers exceptional performance for concurrent processing. The ransomware deletes all Volume Shadow Copies using the vssadmin.exe utility and wmic to thwart rollback attempts and attains privilege escalation by leveraging the CMSTPLUA COM interface and bypasses User Account Control (UAC). It encrypts files with the ChaCha20 or the AES algorithm. BlackCat/ALPHV developers opted for faster over stronger encryption by employing several modes of intermittent encryption and employs a tool called Exmatter for data exfiltration. BlackCat/ALPHV has a wide variability in targeting, but most often focuses on the healthcare, pharmaceutical, financial, manufacturing, legal and professional services industries. The group achieved a new low by publishing private, compromising clinical photographs of breast cancer patients exfiltrated during an attack. Royal also hit a number of US municipalities, including an extremely disruptive attack on the City of Dallas. BlackCat/ALPHV also exfiltrates victim data prior to the execution of the ransomware – including from cloud-based deployments - to be leveraged in double extortion schemes to compel payment of the ransom demand. They have one of the more generous RaaS offerings, offering as much as 80-90% cut to affiliates. BlackCat/ALPHV is also noted for putting their leaks website on the public web instead of dark web.
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