Hades Ransomware: In-Depth Analysis, Detection, and Mitigation

Summary of Hades Ransomware

Hades ransomware emerged in December of 2020.  Hades is often referred to as “Phoenix Locker”, making “Hades” and “Phoenix” interchangeable terms in this context.  The malware operates as a private ransomware, as opposed to an open RaaS (Ransomware-as-a-Service). Hades ransomware is believed to be developed by “Evil Corp”, the group responsible for WastedLocker.  Hades operators are known to be hands-on in their campaigns, as well as very nimble and quick to change course where needed.

What Does Hades Ransomware Target?

Hades ransomware is known to target a variety of industries including healthcare, manufacturing, education, government, finance and professional services. Targeting within the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) is discouraged.

How Does Hades Ransomware Spread?

Hades ransomware is deployed in two ways: via Cobalt Strike or a similar framework, and through email phishing. Additionally, brute force attacks against RDP services have been seen in Hades campaigns.  Operators are also known to target known vulnerabilities, including ProxyShell (CVE-2022-34523)

Hades Ransomware Technical Details

Hades is a 64-bit compiled version of WastedLocker, displaying numerous code and functionality overlaps. In March 2021, a new variant called ‘Phoenix Locker’ appeared in the wild. Analysis suggests this is a rebranded version of Hades with little to no changes.

Hades employs a UAC bypass taken from the UCME product. Differing from other Evil Corp output, Hades does not use Alternate Data Streams (ADS) during its execution. In addition, Hades stores key information in each encrypted file while WastedLocker and Bitpaymer store key information inside a ransom note.

Victims are instructed to contact the attackers via TOX messenger.  Each ransomware note contains a unique,  victim-specific, TOX-ID for this purpose.  Hades operators make heavy use of COTS tools including Malleable C2, Advanced Port Scanner, MSBuild, and the Metasploit Framework.

How to Detect Hades Ransomware

  • The SentinelOne Singularity XDR Platform can identify and stop any malicious activities and items related to Hades Ransomware

In case you do not have SentinelOne deployed, detecting ransomware requires a combination of technical and operational measures designed to identify and flag suspicious activity on the network. This allows the organization to take appropriate action, and to prevent or mitigate the impact of the ransomware attack.

To mitigate the risk of this Ransomware without SentinelOne deployed, it is important to take a multi-layered approach, which includes the following steps:

  1. Use anti-malware software or other security tools capable of detecting and blocking known ransomware variants. These tools may use signatures, heuristics, or machine learning algorithms, to identify and block suspicious files or activities.
  2. Monitor network traffic and look for indicators of compromise, such as unusual network traffic patterns or communication with known command-and-control servers.
  3. Conduct regular security audits and assessments to identify network and system vulnerabilities and ensure that all security controls are in place and functioning properly.
  4. Educate and train employees on cybersecurity best practices, including identifying and reporting suspicious emails or other threats.
  5. Implement a robust backup and recovery plan to ensure that the organization has a copy of its data and can restore it in case of an attack.

How to Mitigate Hades Ransomware

  • The SentinelOne Singularity XDR Platform can return systems to their original state (which is free from re-infection) using either the Repair or Rollback feature.

In case you do not have SentinelOne deployed, there are several steps that organizations can take to mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks:

  1. Educate employees: Employees should be educated on the risks of ransomware, and on how to identify and avoid phishing emails, malicious attachments, and other threats. They should be encouraged to report suspicious emails or attachments, and to avoid opening them, or clicking on links or buttons in them.
  2. Implement strong passwords: Organizations should implement strong, unique passwords for all user accounts, and should regularly update and rotate these passwords. Passwords should be at least 8 characters long, and should include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  3. Enable multi-factor authentication: Organizations should enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all user accounts, to provide an additional layer of security. This can be done through the use of mobile apps, such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator, or through the use of physical tokens or smart cards.
  4. Update and patch systems: Organizations should regularly update and patch their systems, to fix any known vulnerabilities, and to prevent attackers from exploiting them. This includes updating the operating system, applications, and firmware on all devices, as well as disabling any unnecessary or unused services or protocols.

Implement backup and disaster recovery: Organizations should implement regular backup and disaster recovery (BDR) processes, to ensure that they can recover from ransomware attacks, or other disasters. This includes creating regular backups of all data and systems, and storing these backups in a secure, offsite location. The backups should be tested regularly, to ensure that they are working, and that they can be restored quickly and easily.

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