On June 2, 2022, CISA (the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), the FBI, the Department of the Treasury and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued a joint Cybersecurity Alert warning companies of the Karakurt Team/Karakurt Lair extortion group, which has “employed a variety of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), creating significant challenges for defense and mitigation.” According to the Alert, the group does not encrypt data for ransom, but instead steals data, then threatens to auction it off or release it to the public for ransoms ranging from $25,000 to $13,000,000 in Bitcoin.

Not only does Karakurt threaten to auction off the data or release it publicly like many ransomware groups, but it also has contacted victims’ employees, business partners, and clients with harassing emails and phone calls to pressure the victims to cooperate. The emails have contained examples of stolen data, such as social security numbers, payment accounts, and private company emails, as well as sensitive business data belonging to employees or clients. Upon payment of ransoms, Karakurt actors have provided some form of proof of deletion of the files and, occasionally, a brief statement explaining how the initial intrusion occurred.

According to the Alert, as of May 2022, Karakurt’s website “contained several terabytes of data purported to belong to victims across North America and Europe, along with several ‘press releases’ naming victims who had not paid or cooperated, and instructions for participating in victim data ‘auctions.’”

The methods used by Karakurt to obtain access to devices include:

  • Purchasing stolen login credentials
  • Cooperation with other cybercriminals who provide access to compromised company networks
  • Buying access to already compromised data through “third-party intrusion broker networks”

The intrusions exploit software vulnerabilities such as Log4j or outdated versions of software, and phishing and spearphishing campaigns.

The Alert and mitigation steps can be accessed here.