Incident Response, Malware, TDR

PowerWare ransomware variant poses as Locky, but can be decrypted

The ransomware PowerWare that commandeers Microsoft's PowerShell utility to download and run malicious code, now has a variant that mirrors Locky ransomware. 

According to Palo Alto Networks, whose Unit 42 threat research team made the recent discovery, the variant attaches a .locky filename extension on files it encrypts to sell the notion that Locky is behind the attack. It also writes an HTML-based ransom note with directions borrowing the exact wording found in Locky's note. And it provides a website that includes Bitcoin payment instructions that refer to a Locky decryptor. 

Despite efforts to imitate Locky, PowerWare (aka PoshCoder) cannot mask the fact that its encryption can currently be broken, due to use of a hardcoded key during its AES 128 encryption process, Palo Alto explains in a blog post. Indeed, the research firm has written a free Python script that decrypts PowerWare's .locky files.

Bradley Barth

As director of community content at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for SC Media online conferences and events, as well as video/multimedia projects. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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