Researchers at Guardicore Labs have uncovered a year-long malware-less ransomware campaign targeting millions of internet-facing MySQL databases.

The campaign, named PLEASE_READ_ME by researchers, has been going on since January 2020 and has utilized an “extremely simple” attack chain to carry out at least 92 separate attacks over the past year, with a sharp rise in volume since October.

Interestingly, the operators do not appear to be utilizing any actual ransomware payload in their attacks. It begins by brute forcing weak password protocols for MySQL databases, followed by collection of data on existing tables and users before installing a hidden backdoor on the way out to facilitate future break-ins.

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