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

What is Zeon Ransomware?

Zeon ransomware was first observed in late January 2022 and is characterized as a low-sophistication and commodity-level ransomware. Ransom notes in Zeon infections prompt victims to visit a TOR-based payment portal. Zeon is the predecessor to Royal ransomware.

Zeon victims are instructed to pay in XMR or BTC with a fee of 25% in case of the latter. Observed Zeon payloads are Python-based executables packaged via pyInstaller and further obfuscated via pyArmor.

Zeon Ransomware

What Does Zeon Ransomware Target?

ZeonThanos ransomware is known to target small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

How Does Zeon Ransomware Work?

Zeon ransomware targets its victims through phishing emails. They are also known to leverage exposed and vulnerable applications and services such as remote desktop protocol (RDP) and third-party frameworks (e.g., Empire, Metasploit, Cobalt Strike).

Zeon Ransomware Technical Details

On execution, Zeon ransomware payloads attempt to stop any services or processes that could inhibit the encryption process. These include common backup processes and utilities as well as well -known security products. For example, Zeon will attempt to stop known processes from McAfee, Sophos, and Kaspersky.

Zeon achieves persistence via Scheduled Task and the ransomware generates and executes its scheduled task via cmd.exe. Once encrypted, the .zeon extension will be added to all affected files and the ransom note is dropped as “re_ad_me.html” on the Desktop.

How to Detect Zeon Ransomware

The SentinelOne Singularity XDR Platform detects and prevents malicious behaviors and artifacts associated with Zeon ransomware.

If you do not have SentinelOne deployed, here are a few ways you can identify Zeon ransomware in your network:

Security Tools

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.

Network Traffic

Monitor network traffic and look for indicators of compromise, such as unusual network traffic patterns or communication with known command-and-control servers.

Security Audits

Conduct regular security audits and assessments to identify network and system vulnerabilities and ensure that all security controls are in place and functioning properly.

Education & Training

Educate and train employees on cybersecurity best practices, including identifying and reporting suspicious emails or other threats.

Backup & Recovery Plan

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 Zeon Ransomware

SentinelOne Singularity XDR Platform prevents Zeon ransomware infections. In case of an infection, the SentinelOne Singularity XDR Platform detects and prevents malicious behaviors and artifacts associated with Zeon ransomware.

SentinelOne customers are protected from Zeon ransomware without any need to update or take action. In cases where the policy was set to Detect Only and a device became infected, remove the infection by using SentinelOne’s unique rollback capability. As the accompanying video shows,  the rollback will revert any malicious impact on the device and restore encrypted files to their original state.

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

Educate employees

Employees should be educated on the risks of ransomware, and 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.

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.

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 the use of physical tokens or smart cards.

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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