BlueSky ransomware is an emerging threat that researchers have been paying increasing attention to since its initial discovery in late June 2022. The ransomware has been observed being spread via trojanized downloads from questionable websites as well as in phishing emails.
Although infections at this time remain low, the ransomware’s characteristics, described below, suggest it has been carefully developed for a sustained campaign. In this post, we cover the latest intelligence on BlueSky ransomware to help security teams defend against this developing threat.
Emergence of BlueSky Ransomware
At present, BlueSky has not stood up a public data leak site and BTC wallets associated with known samples have not registered any transactions, indicating that the threat actor’s distribution campaign is still in its infancy.
Initial delivery vectors seen to date include trojanized downloads from websites hosting “cracks” and “keygens” as well as malicious attachments delivered via email. Some observed mechanisms include delivery via third-party frameworks such as Cobalt Strike and BRc4.
Upon infection, BlueSky uses fast encryption techniques to rapidly process files on the target and connected hosts. The ransomware has the ability to move laterally via SMB and has been observed doing so in Active Directory environments. Encrypted files will be marked with the
.bluesky extension. Victims are instructed to contact the attackers via a TOR-based portal to obtain a decrypter.
A multi-stage attack leading to a BlueSky infection was documented by Germán Fernández in early July.
Interesting, cracks/activators site distributes Powershell that installs #RemcosRAT (C2: 220.127.116.11:2807).
— Germán Fernández (@1ZRR4H) July 2, 2022
Fernández tweeted details around an infection chain that, depending on the client, resembles JuicyPotato, exploiting an elevation of privilege flaw (CVE-2022-21882) in Microsoft Windows and a remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2020-0796) in Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB), before dropping the BlueSky ransomware.
The use of trojanized downloads was documented by CloudSEK. Trojanized downloads of BlueSky ransomware were briefly made available via a website known to host questionable executables such as application “cracks” and “keygens”, license generators for software products such as Windows 10.
One such site was observed being hosted at
kmsauto[.]us. The following list of malicious URLs were recorded as hosting BlueSky ransomware payloads. Note the redundant use of both HTTP and HTTPS.
http[:]//kmsauto[.]us/alguien/l.exe http[:]//kmsauto[.]us/alguien/potato.exe http[:]//kmsauto[.]us/alguien/spooler.exe http[:]//kmsauto[.]us/off/off.bin http[:]//kmsauto[.]us/someone/ghost.exe http[:]//kmsauto[.]us/someone/I.exe http[:]//kmsauto[.]us/someone/potato.exe http[:]//kmsauto[.]us/sti/sti.bin https[:]//kmsauto[.]us/alguien/l.exe https[:]//kmsauto[.]us/alguien/spooler.exe https[:]//kmsauto[.]us/ekonomika/ https[:]//kmsauto[.]us/someone/l.exe https[:]//kmsauto[.]us/someone/potato.exe https[:]//kmsauto[.]us/someone/start.ps1 https[:]//kmsauto[.]us/v-mire/
BlueSky Ransomware Technical Details
The first stage of a BlueSky ransomware infection involves a compressed, base64-encoded PowerShell script,
start.ps1. On execution, the script produces a further PowerShell script,
stage.ps1 is run without administrator privileges, it first seeks to elevate privileges through CVE-2021-1732 or CVE-2022-21882.
Once sufficient privileges are acquired, the script downloads the ransomware payload,
l.exe, and writes it to disk at the following file path:
The payload contains anti-analysis logic including leveraging NtSetInformationThread to hide threads launched by the malware executable.
ThreadInformationClass to the value of 0x11 prevents certain events from being viewed or hooked by debuggers, or from being detected by certain EDR hooking mechanisms. As noted by Unit32, BlueSky uses a multithreaded queue for faster encryption.
The ransomware makes use of the
NtQueryInformationProcess API for process discovery before calling
Local drives are discovered and stored via
GetLogicalDriveStringsW, with the ransomware traversing each drive serially.
BlueSky’s ability to spread laterally across accessible networks is enabled by way of SMB (Server Message Block) and the
NetShareEnum (+WNetOpenEnumW) API.
In some cases, 1000ms Sleep intervals are inserted between each remote connection attempt.
Previous researchers have noted that file targeting is inverted compared to typical ransomware behavior: rather than targeting specific file extensions, BlueSky instead lists file types to be excluded from encryption. The following extensions are reportedly excluded:
ldf, scr, icl, 386, cmd, ani, adv, theme, msi, rtp, diagcfg, msstyles, bin, hlp, shs, drv, wpx, bat, rom, msc, lnk, cab, spl, ps1, msu, ics, key, msp, com, sys, diagpkg, nls, diagcab, ico, lock, ocx, mpa, cur, cpl, mod, hta, exe, ini, icns, prf, dll, bluesky, nomedia, idx
Post-Infection and Ransom Demands
The ransom note “# DECRYPT FILES BLUESKY #.html ” is written into each folder containing encrypted items. With the exception of the victim’s ‘recover ID’, all ransom notes regardless of the target are identical. In addition, the malware drops notes in both text and HTML format.
After infection, victims are instructed to visit the BlueSky ‘DECRYPTOR’ portal and enter the unique recovery ID embedded in the ransom note. The portal displays the time limit and the increasing dollar amounts required to regain access to encrypted data.
In the pool of samples we analyzed, victims were given seven days to pay the ransom demand, after which the ransom amount doubled.
Detecting and Protecting Against BlueSky Ransomware
As demonstrated in the following video, SentinelOne Singularity™ fully protects against BlueSky ransomware, preventing lateral movement across Active Directory and connected devices.
BlueSky ransomware has the ability to rapidly encrypt the local host and move laterally by exploiting known vulnerabilities. BlueSky campaigns appear to be in their infancy, but the architecture of both droppers and payloads indicates that the actors have invested significant effort and will be looking to reap the returns. Now is the time for security teams to get ahead by bolstering their protection and detection posture.
Indicators of Compromise
T1552.001 – Unsecured Credentials: Credentials In Files
T1049 – System Network Connections Discovery
T1422 – System Network Configuration Discovery
T1083 – File and Directory Discovery
T1012 – Query Registry
T1082 – System Information Discovery
T1119 – Automated Collection
T1005 – Data from Local System
T1486 – Data Encrypted for Impact
T1135 – Network Share Discovery
T1021.002 – Remote Services: SMB/Windows Admin Shares
T0809 – Data Destruction