NCC Group Uncovers Data Breach Scheme

  • By Dawna M. Roberts
  • Published: Oct 28, 2021
  • Last Updated: Mar 18, 2022

 The NCC Group discovered a new cybercrime threat actor with a unique mode of operation on October 11. Dubbed “SnapMC,” it has proven to be efficient in extracting data from organizational networks without disrupting the victim’s activities.

How did NCC Identify the Scheme?

The number of data breach extortion schemes has been on the rise recently, and NCC Group has been coordinating investigations into these schemes. This was how the group’s Threat Intelligence team isolated a peculiar cluster of activities that did not follow the traditional method of most ransomware attacks.

What is SnapMC?

The discovered threat actor was called “SnapMc” by the NCC Group because of the speed at which they attack victim networks and because they use the exfiltration tool “mc.exe.” Generally, SnapMc can access a victim’s network within 30 minutes.
 
The unique thing about SnapMc is that they do not use ransomware that deters organization activities by encrypting the data. They skip that and focus on outrightly stealing company data before demanding to be paid.
 
In most data breach extortion schemes, emails are sent to the victim, threatening to publish stolen data if the affected organization fails to pay a required sum. Majority of the time, these threats are empty because the attackers cannot break through the victim’s security to cause any harm. However, SnapMc has proven that it can steal sensitive company information and will not hesitate to publish it if its demands are not met.
 
Typically, SnapMc will first steal the victim’s data. Then they will send an extortion email to the victim, giving them 24 hours to respond and 72 hours to negotiate. They will include a list of the stolen data as proof that they have access to the victim’s infrastructure. However, well before the allocated time is over, they start to pressurize the victim.
If the organization does not respond or pay the amount requested, SnapMc will threaten to publish, or actually publish, the stolen data then inform media outlets and the victim’s clients. 
NCC Group Uncovers Data Breach Scheme

How Does it Attack Users?

SnapMc gains access to victim networks through vulnerabilities in web server programs and virtual private networking (VPN) solutions. According to NCC Group’s Security Operation Centers, this attacker either exploits-
Remote code vulnerability in Telerik UI for ASPX.NET, or
SQL injection vulnerabilities.
After infiltrating the target environment, SnapMc will run a payload to install a reverse shell for remote access. Based on the observed payloads, the attackers seem to be using “... a publicly available Proof-of-Concept Telerik Exploit.”
 
The attackers would then conduct reconnaissance with PowerShell and, in some cases, run a handful of Powershell scripts to escalate their privileges on the network. Afterward, SnapMC would extract the data with various exfiltration and data harvesting tools.

How can I be Protected From Data Breach Extortion?

Data breach extortion is not the same as ransomware attacks. In ransomware attacks, the hacker gains access to your network and encrypts your data until you pay a certain amount of money to get the decryption key. Meanwhile, in data breach extortion, the hackers claim to already have access to your data and demand a specified amount of money to keep it unpublished.
These claims might be true or false. It is usually difficult to ascertain quickly because the organization did not experience any disruption to its activities.
 
Data breach extortion can be prevented by following these best practices.
  • Keep your operating system and software up-to-date with the latest patches.
  • Regularly backup your data.
  • Make sure your anti-malware software is up-to-date and ensure to scan for vulnerabilities regularly.
  • Invest in data breach prevention and detection tools.
  • Have an efficient IT team that can carry out audits to detect if company data has been compromised.
  • Use only secure and trusted third-party software.

 

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