November 29, 2022
Microsoft has attributed the recently observed Prestige ransomware attacks to a Russian state-sponsored hreat actor tracked as Iridium. Initially detailed in October, the Prestige ransomware has been used in attacks against transportation and related logistics organizations in Ukraine and Poland, with some of the victims previously infected with the destructive HermeticWiper malware (FoxBlade). At the time, Microsoft said that…

Microsoft has attributed the recently observed Prestige ransomware attacks to a Russian state-sponsored hreat actor tracked as Iridium.

Initially detailed in October, the Prestige ransomware has been used in attacks against transportation and related logistics organizations in Ukraine and Poland, with some of the victims previously infected with the destructive HermeticWiper malware (FoxBlade).

At the time, Microsoft said that the attacks did not appear to be related to known ransomware campaigns, despite the use of development techniques like those used in recent destructive attacks in Ukraine.

On November 10, however, the tech giant updated its initial blog on Prestige with attribution information, saying that the threat actor behind the attacks, initially tracked as DEV-0960, is, in fact, Iridium.

“Iridium is a Russia-based threat actor tracked by Microsoft, publicly overlapping with Sandworm, that has been consistently active in the war in Ukraine and has been linked to destructive attacks since the start of the war. This attribution assessment is based on forensic artifacts, as well as overlaps in victimology, tradecraft, capabilities, and infrastructure, with known Iridium activity,” Microsoft says.

The tech giant has evidence that, between March and October 2022, Iridium actively compromised multiple organizations that were then infected with Prestige.

“The Prestige campaign may highlight a measured shift in Iridium’s destructive attack calculus, signaling increased risk to organizations directly supplying or transporting humanitarian or military assistance to Ukraine,” Microsoft says.

The tech giant also warns that Iridium could become a major risk to Eastern European organizations that Russia might view as providing support relating to the war.

Sandworm, which is also tracked as APT28, Fancy Bear, Sednit, Sofacy, and Voodoo Bear, is believed to be part of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU).

Previously, the threat actor was blamed for cyberattacks such as BlackEnergy and Industroyer (both targeting Ukraine), and the 2017 NotPetya operation.

Related: New ‘Cyclops Blink’ Malware Linked to Russian State Hackers Targets Firewalls

Related: New ‘Prestige’ Ransomware Targets Transportation Industry in Ukraine, Poland

Related: Russian Use of Cyberweapons in Ukraine and the Growing Threat to the West

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. Previous Columns by Ionut Arghire:Tags:
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