U.K. National Crime Agency Identifies LockBit Ransomware Admin


May 14, 2024

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The U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) has identified the administrator and developer of the notorious LockBit ransomware operation as 31-year-old Russian national named Dmitry Yuryevich Khoroshev.

“Khoroshev, who went by the monikers LockBitSupp and putinkrab, has also become the subject of asset freezes and travel bans, with the U.S. Department of State offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction,” Hacker News reports.

“In addition, Khoroshev has been sanctioned by the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCD), the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.”

Takeaway: LockBit is a RaaS that has been active since 2019 and is highly adept at security tool evasion as well as boasting an extremely fast encryption speed.  

In February 2024, an international law enforcement task force dubbed Operation Cronos succeeded in seizing and taking control of the LockBit administration environment. However, LockBit was back online within days and attacks continued throughout Q1-2024.

LockBit continues to innovate their RaaS platform following the release of LockBit 3.0 in June of 2022, and introduced what is considered to be the first iteration of a macOS ransomware variant in April of 2023. A new variant of LockBit was recently detected in the wild capable of impersonating system administrators and adaptive self-propagation across networks.

The latest versions incorporate advanced anti-analysis features and are a threat to both Windows and Linux systems. LockBit 3.0 is modular and configured with multiple execution options that direct the behavior of the ransomware on the affected systems. LockBit employs a custom Salsa20 algorithm to encrypt files.  

LockBit takes advantage of remote desktop protocol (RDP) exploitation for most infections, and spreads on the network by way of Group Policy Objects and PsExec using the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.  

LockBit appears to also still be supporting the older LockBit 2.0 variant from 2021, where the encryptor used is LockBit 2.0 but the victim is named on the LockBit 3.0 leak site. In Q1-2024, LockBit operators were observed frequently exploiting the Citrix Bleed vulnerability (CVE 2023-4966).

LockBit is noted for multiple means of extortion where the victim may also be asked to pay a ransom for any sensitive information exfiltrated in the attack in addition to paying a ransom for the encryption key. LockBit employs publicly available file sharing services and a custom tool dubbed Stealbit for data exfiltration.  

LockBit held the title as the leading attack group in the first half of 2023 until overtaken in volume by Cl0p in Q3. Nonetheless, LockBit is by far the most prolific ransomware operation to date, and proved they follow through on threats, having exposed a large amount of exfiltrated Boeing data in Q1-2024.  

‍LockBit has a very well-run affiliate program and has a great reputation amongst the affiliate (attacker) community for the maturity of the platform as well as for offering high payouts of as much as 75% of the ransom proceeds.

‍LockBit has demanded ransoms of $50 million or more and hit the world’s biggest computer chip maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), with a $70 million ransom demand in July.  

‍LockBit tends to target larger enterprises across any industry vertical with the ability to pay high ransom demands, but also have tended to favor Healthcare organizations.  

Notable victims include Fulton County, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBS), Alphadyne Asset Management, Boeing, SpaceX, Shakey's Pizza, Banco De Venezuela, GP Global, Kuwait Ministry of Commerce, MCNA Dental, Bank of Brazilia, Endtrust, Bridgestone Americas, Royal Mail.  

Halcyon.ai is the leading anti-ransomware company that closes endpoint protection gaps and defeats ransomware through built-in bypass and evasion protection, key material capture, automated decryption, and data exfiltration prevention – talk to a Halcyon expert today to find out more. Halcyon also publishes a quarterly RaaS and extortion group reference guide, Power Rankings: Ransomware Malicious Quartile.