Conti Ransomware recently struck the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and now city officials are warning residents of identity theft following a leak of police citations online by the ransomware gang. Conti Ransomware infected city systems in early May, which lead to many services being taken offline to protect them from the strain. The attack disrupted Tulsa’s online bill payment systems, utility billing, and email, as well as the websites for the City of Tulsa, the Tulsa City Council, Tulsa Police, and the Tulsa 311.
At the time of the attack, it was unknown what strain of malware was the culprit.
This week, the Conti Ransomware gang claimed credit for the attack, and published 18,938 of the City’s files, mainly police citations and internal Word documents.
Following the leak, city officials made a statement warning citizens that personally identifiable information was exposed in the leaked police citations.
“Today, the City of Tulsa was made aware the persons responsible for the May 2021 City of Tulsa ransomware attack shared more than 18,000 City files via the dark web mostly in the form of police citations and internal department files,” said the press release.
“Police citations contain some Personal Identifiable Information (PII) such as name, date of birth, address and driver’s license number. Police citations do not include social security numbers.”
The City is asking “anyone who has filed a police report, received a police citation, made a payment with the City, or interacted with the City in any way where PII was shared” to be extra vigilant against threat actors performing identity theft using the exposed information.
Identity theft is a real threat when a Ransomware situation comes this far – The target doesn’t pay up and as a result, individuals who are not associated with the attack have their personal information leaked. Other ransomware gangs and online crooks can purchase this data and use it in their own phishing attacks, scams, and other fraudulent activity.
Conti Ransomware Analysis
Note: The Analysis of Conti Ransomware was carried out by researchers at Vipre Labs.
Conti ransomware encrypts the files of their victims and publishes the data on their website similar to what other strains do. This extortion behavior is visible on their ransom note saying “We’ve downloaded your data and are ready to publish it on our news website”.
When executed, it will start to encrypt files and change the file extension of the encrypted files to .ODMUA. Like other ransomware, it will leave a ransom note that has a filename “readme.txt”.
The Conti ransomware website has an instruction on how to upload the README.txt for the decryption and a contact button at the bottom left of the page. Once you click the contact button, a form will appear where you will provide your contact information and question as shown below.
Conti ransomware will perform a known malware technique called process hollowing. It is where the malware will create a process in a suspended state, unmaps or removes the PE image layout from a given process space using ZwUnmapViewofSection function, write it’s malicious code using WriteProcessMemory, set a new entry point using SetThreadContext, and resume the execution of the suspended process using the ResumeThread function.
Upon research, we found out that the use of -p argument is to encrypt a specific directory with a single thread and the -m argument is to encrypt the files with multiple threads. It means that Conti ransomware has a multi-threading capability. Multi-threading is where main ransomware creates child threads to speed up the encryption.
It will use a string “hsfjuukjzloqu28oajh727190” that was decrypted using the decryption of string routine mentioned above for creating a mutex using CreateMutexA function. Then check if there’s an already running mutex. This was commonly used by ransomware to avoid infecting the system more than once.
It will also delete all the shadow volume copies on the infected system to ensure that the victims won’t be able to recover their encrypted files.
After deleting the shadow copies, Conti ransomware will now start its file encryption by first creating the ransom note which will be first drop in C drive using “CreateFileW” and write the content of its ransom note using “WriteFile”.
As with other ransomware, it will utilize the functions “FindFirstFileW” and “FindNextFileW” to find the files they will encrypt. Conti ransomware has a list of files/file extension and directories which will be excluded for the infection.
When Conti finds the file to be encrypted, it will now generate keys that will be used to encrypt the files. It will used the handle returned by calling the function “CryptAcquireContext” that request a cryptographic context from the Microsoft Enhanced Cryptographic Provider, then the “CryptGenRandom” function to generate cryptographically random bytes, and “CryptEncrypt” function. It leverages AES 256 encryption for their infection.
Then it will open the target file using the “CreateFile” function and retrieve the size of the target file using “GetFileSize”. After this the malware will decrypt different file extensions and check if the file extension of the targeted file is in the list.
Conti ransomware will not just encrypt the files of the infected machine but also spreads and infects the other machine on the same network using SMB protocol.
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