Nexus Between Ransomware Identified

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • May 30, 2022

A link between several different types of the most threatening ransomware has been identified. The link connects Yashma, Onyx, and Chaos ransomware together. It is believed that a mistake by a malware creator opened the door for researchers to identify the variations under different monikers. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of ransomware and their overlap.

What is Chaos all About?

Threat actors previously relied on several variations of a ransomware builder referred to as Chaos. Hackers used Chaos to go on a digital offensive against governments, businesses, healthcare groups, and others. However, Chaos has gradually progressed in recent years.

How was the Connection Between the Ransomware Versions Made?

Digital security researchers with Blackberry made the connection noted above. According to the researchers, the malware has morphed nearly half a dozen times in merely one year. Blackberry’s researchers made the connection around the time of a monitored dialogue between Onyx ransomware hackers and a target. A third party entered that digital discussion, noting that it was the older version of ransomware, meaning Onyx is ultimately an older version of Chaos.  

The individual behind Chaos subsequently offered the latest version of the ransomware to Onyx. Known as “Yashma,” the ransomware is a threat to all businesses, regardless of their industry or size. If you have not yet updated your digital defenses, now is the time to do so.

How did Chaos Evolve?

Chaos originally began as a scam. The author of Chaos intended to out Onyx as being just another spinoff of other ransomware. The initial form of Chaos made its way to the dark web at the start of the 2021 summer. Chaos was marketed as a tool for building and functioning as a component of the Ryuk ransomware group. 

Reverse-engineers then started to analyze Chaos because of its association with Ryuk. However, no links were established to actual Ryuk ransomware. The creator of the threat simply stopped pushing the link to Ryuk and rebranded the digital tool as Chaos. At this time, the party responsible for Chaos decided the time was right to make the builder stick out from the pack. 

Chaos 2.0 is the result of the push for unique software. Unfortunately, chaos 2.0 turned out to be that much more powerful and efficient, churning out samples of ransomware that could disable Windows recovery mode, delete the machine’s backup catalogs, and delete alternate copies.

Chaos became more of a destructive force than traditional ransomware as it wasn’t equipped with any means of file recovery. Therefore, if the target paid a requested ransom, there would not be the potential for file recovery, and word would spread that Chaos ransom payments don’t amount to the return of stolen information. However, Chaos continued to evolve with new variations that addressed this and other shortcomings. Fast forward to April of 2022, and the latest upgrade, 4.0, hit the scene.  

Chaos 4.0 is a version similar to Onyx with only slight variations. According to Blackberry’s research team, there is a nearly 99% similarity between the two.

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