CISA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have released a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) on a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) variant—referred to as DarkSide—recently used in a ransomware attack against a critical infrastructure (CI) company.
The cyberattack against Colonial Pipeline that was discovered on May 7 underscores the growing impact of cyberthreats on industrial sectors. While the investigation is ongoing and important lessons from this attack will be extracted in the next few weeks, the fact that Colonial Pipeline had to pro-actively take their OT systems offline after starting to learn about which IT systems were impacted by the ransomware is significant.
May 11: The FBI confirms that the Darkside ransomware is responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks
May 10: Colonial Pipeline restarted some systems with the goal of substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week
May 9: Colonial Pipeline is is developing a system restart plan
May 7: A ransomware attack against the corporate systems (IT) of Colonial Pipeline led the organization on Friday May 7 to proactively take certain operational systems (OT) offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations. Details on the attack mechanism and the attack scope are under active investigation by the FBI and the private security firm Mandiant (a division of FireEye).
Cybercriminal groups use DarkSide to gain access to a victim’s network to encrypt and exfiltrate data. These groups then threaten to expose data if the victim does not pay the ransom. Groups leveraging DarkSide have recently been targeting organizations across various CI sectors including manufacturing, legal, insurance, healthcare, and energy.
Prevention is the most effective defense against ransomware. It is critical to follow best practices to protect against ransomware attacks, which can be devastating to an individual or organization and recovery may be a difficult process. In addition to the Joint CSA, CISA and FBI urge CI asset owners and operators to review the following resources for best practices on strengthening cybersecurity posture:
CISA and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center: Joint Ransomware Guide https://www.cisa.gov/publication/ransomware-guide