Operators of the Conti ransomware suffered from a data leak: the Swiss cybersecurity company Prodaft was able to determine the real IP address of one of the group’s servers and remained in the system for more than a month.
The affected server was the group’s payment portal (or so-called “recovery server”), to which hackers invited their victims to negotiate a ransom. The server was hosted by the Ukrainian hotser ITL LLC and located at the IP address 188.8.131.52.
“Our team discovered a vulnerability in the recovery servers that Conti uses and exploited the vulnerability to discover the real IP addresses of the hidden service where the site was hosted,” the Prodaft report says.
The researchers kept access to the server for several weeks and monitored all network traffic and IP addresses. While some of the addresses belonged to the victims and their intermediaries, Prodaft also tracked SSH connections that most likely belonged to the hackers themselves. Alas, all SSH IP addresses were associated with Tor exit nodes, that is, it was not possible to use them to identify members of the hack group.
The researchers’ report also provided other valuable information, including information about the OS of the Conti server and the htpasswd file, which contained a hashed version of the server password. Prodaft emphasizes that it has shared all of its findings with law enforcement agencies, and some details are kept under wraps to give law enforcement time to take action.
The publication of the report did not go unnoticed not only among information security experts, but also among the hackers themselves. The point is that leaking the server’s IP address and hashed password would potentially open the server up to competing hack groups. As a result, within a few hours after the publication of the report, researchers MalwareHunterTeam noticed, that Conti cut off your payment portal. The sudden server downtime made it impossible for Conti’s recent victims to contact the hackers and pay the ever-increasing ransom.
As a result, payment portal Conti returned online more than 24 hours after the shutdown, and an angry message appeared on the blog of the hack group, which reads that “Europeans seem to have decided to forget about their manners and behaved like gopniks trying to hack our systems.” …
The hackers also denied Prodaft’s assertion made last week : researchers wrote that since July 2021, the ransomware “earned” about $ 25.5 million. Conti’s operators said they actually made more than $ 300,000,000 in profits. However, this is most likely just bragging, which ransomware uses to advertise and increase the profitability of their attacks.
Interestingly, some experts have already criticized Prodaft for publicly disclosing information, which only led to the fact that Conti has increased the security of its servers.
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