After a short break Zeppelin ransomware is back in business, with its updated system it appears as a big one in the “Big Game Hunting“. He is part of the Vagas Locker family of ransomware, which include Jamper, Storm (or Buran). Zeppelin’s first detection was in November 2019.
Like the vast majority of ransomware, Zeppelin uses the RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) tactic which is the affiliate program of the groups, this tactic is used to expand the attacks bringing a greater renown to the group, even if the creators do not keep all the value obtained with the ransom. But while this strategy is extremely advantageous and profitable for the group, Zeppelin has modified it somewhat.
Generally, groups restrict and control their affiliates, Zeppelin does not, their affiliates are free to make attacks. One of the only restrictions of the group is the countries that are part of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), the ransomware analyses the language of the invaded system, and if the language is from one of these countries, the encryption is not done.
This kind of caution shows a fear of the group with certain countries, which can lead to a slight suspicion of where these groups are hiding.
Zeppelin ransomware attacks target large corporations in Europe and the United States. One of the points that differentiates Zeppelin from other ransomware is the fact that the group does not threaten victims with data leakage, the focus of the group is not on data leakage, but solely on locking down the internal systems of the attacked company.
The invasion tactics are no different from other groups, the main tactics are: Phishing emails, Microsoft Word document with malicious macros embedded, PowerShell loaders, open ScreenConnect or VPN connections, malicious EXE files, malicious DLL files.
After the ransomware manages to break into the operating system, it “sleeps” for about 26 seconds to avoid any system alarms, after that time the encryption starts, after encryption finishes the files are left with the group extension and a message for ransom payment is left on the desktop.
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