An emerging threat cluster originating from North Korea has been linked to developing and using ransomware in cyberattacks targeting small businesses since September 2021.
The group, which calls itself H0lyGh0st after the ransomware payload of the same name, is being tracked by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center under the moniker DEV-0530, a designation assigned for unknown, emerging, or a developing group of threat activity.
Targeted entities primarily include small-to-midsize businesses such as manufacturing organizations, banks, schools, and event and meeting planning companies.
“Along with their H0lyGh0st payload, DEV-0530 maintains an .onion site that the group uses to interact with their victims,” the researchers said in a Thursday analysis.
“The group’s standard methodology is to encrypt all files on the target device and use the file extension .h0lyenc, send the victim a sample of the files as proof, and then demand payment in Bitcoin in exchange for restoring access to the files.”
Ransom amounts demanded by DEV-0530 range anywhere between 1.2 and 5 bitcoins, although an analysis of the attacker’s cryptocurrency wallet shows no successful ransom payments from its victims as of early July 2022.
DEV-0530 is believed to have connections with another North Korean-based group known as Plutonium (aka DarkSeoul or Andariel), a sub-group operating under the Lazarus umbrella (aka Zinc or Hidden Cobra).
The illicit scheme adopted by the threat actor is also known to take a leaf from the ransomware playbook, leveraging extortion tactics to apply pressure on victims into paying up or risk getting their information published on social media.
DEV-0530’s dark web portal claims it aims to “close the gap between the rich and poor” and “help the poor and starving people,” in a tactic that mirrors another ransomware family called GoodWill that compels victims into donating to social causes and providing financial assistance to people in need.
The technical breadcrumbs that tie the group to Andariel stem from overlaps in the infrastructure set as well as based on communications between email accounts controlled by the two attacker collectives, with DEV-0530 activity consistently observed during Korea Standard Time (UTC+09:00).
“Despite these similarities, differences in operational tempo, targeting, and tradecraft suggest DEV-0530 and Plutonium are distinct groups,” the researchers pointed out.
In a sign that suggests active development, four different variants of the H0lyGh0st ransomware were churned out between June 2021 and May 2022 to target Windows systems: BTLC_C.exe, HolyRS.exe, HolyLock.exe, and BLTC.exe.
While BTLC_C.exe (dubbed SiennaPurple) is written in C++, the other three versions (codenamed SiennaBlue) are programmed in Go, suggesting an attempt on the part of the adversary to develop cross-platform malware.
The newer strains also come with improvements to their core functionality, including string obfuscation and abilities to delete scheduled tasks and remove themselves from the infected machines.
The intrusions are said to have been facilitated through the exploitation of unpatched vulnerabilities in public-facing web applications and content management systems (e.g., CVE-2022-26352), leveraging the purchase to drop the ransomware payloads and exfiltrate sensitive data prior to encrypting the files.
The findings come a week after the U.S. cybersecurity and intelligence agencies warned about the use of Maui ransomware by North Korean government-backed hackers to target the healthcare sector since at least May 2021.
The expansion from financial heists to ransomware is being viewed as yet another tactic sponsored by the North Korean government to offset losses from sanctions, natural disasters, and other economic setbacks.
But given the narrow set of victims than is typically associated with state-sponsored activity against cryptocurrency organizations, Microsoft theorized the attacks could be a side-hustle for the threat actors involved.
“It is equally possible that the North Korean government is not enabling or supporting these ransomware attacks,” the researchers said. “Individuals with ties to Plutonium infrastructure and tools could be moonlighting for personal gain. This moonlighting theory might explain the often-random selection of victims targeted by DEV-0530.”
The ransomware threat evolves in a post-Conti world
The development also comes as the ransomware landscape is evolving with existing and new ransomware groups, namely LockBit, Hive, Lilith, RedAlert (aka N13V), and 0mega, even as the Conti gang formally shuttered its operations in response to a massive leak of its internal chats.
Adding fuel to the fire, LockBit’s improved successor also comes with a brand new data leak site that allows any actor to purchase data plundered from victims, not to mention incorporating a search feature that makes it easier to surface sensitive information.
Other ransomware families have also incorporated similar capabilities in an attempt to create searchable databases of information stolen during attacks. Notable among this list are PYSA, BlackCat (aka ALPHV), and the Conti offshoot known as Karakurt, according to a report from Bleeping Computer.
Based on statistics gathered by Digital Shadows, 705 organizations were named in ransomware data leak websites in the second quarter of 2022, marking a 21.1% increase from Q1 2022. The top ransomware families during the period consisted of LockBit, Conti, BlackCat, Black Basta, and Vice Society.
Is DuckDuckGo Safe? Your Comprehensive Privacy Guide
Explore the safety and privacy features of DuckDuckGo with this comprehensive guide. Learn how DuckDuckGo protects your online activities and keeps your information secure. Discover why DuckDuckGo is a trustworthy option for privacy-conscious users.
In an age where online privacy is paramount, users are constantly seeking secure and private alternatives to traditional search engines. DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine, has gained significant attention for its commitment to user confidentiality. This article delves deep into the question: “Is DuckDuckGo safe?” We’ll explore the features that make DuckDuckGo a reliable choice for safeguarding your online activities.
Is DuckDuckGo Safe?
DuckDuckGo is a secure and private search engine that emphasizes protecting users’ personal information and search history. It employs several features to ensure your online activities remain confidential and shielded from prying eyes.
Privacy Protection Mechanisms
DuckDuckGo employs a range of privacy protection mechanisms to keep your information safe:
- No Tracking: Unlike mainstream search engines, DuckDuckGo does not track your search queries, ensuring that your search history remains private.
- Anonymous Searches: DuckDuckGo does not associate your searches with your IP address or create user profiles, guaranteeing anonymous searches.
- Secure Connection: The search engine enforces HTTPS encryption, adding an extra layer of security to your online interactions.
- Minimal Data Retention: DuckDuckGo retains minimal data related to your searches, and the data that is retained is not personally identifiable.
Search Result Quality
Despite its strong emphasis on privacy, DuckDuck-Go provides high-quality search results using its unique search algorithm. The search engine utilizes aggregated data from various sources, including Bing and Wikipedia, to deliver relevant results without compromising your privacy.
How Does DuckDuck-Go Ensure Safety?
DuckDuck-Go implements several measures to ensure safety while using its services:
- Smarter Encryption: DuckDuck-Go uses Smarter Encryption to establish a secure connection between your device and its servers, reducing the chances of data interception.
- Privacy Browser Extension: The privacy browser extension provided by DuckDuck-Go blocks third-party trackers, enhances encryption, and enforces secure connections, creating a safer browsing experience.
- Instant Answers: DuckDuck-Go’s Instant Answers feature provides direct answers to your queries, reducing the need to click on potentially unsafe links.
FAQs About DuckDuck-Go’s Safety
Can I trust DuckDuck-Go with my search queries?
Absolutely. DuckDuck-Go’s no-tracking policy and emphasis on privacy ensure that your search queries are not stored or tied to your identity.
Is DuckDuck-Go’s search algorithm effective despite not tracking users?
Yes, DuckDuck-Go’s search algorithm aggregates data from various sources to provide relevant search results without compromising user privacy.
Can I use DuckDuck-Go as my default search engine?
Certainly. DuckDuck-Go offers browser extensions and mobile apps that make it easy to set it as your default search engine.
How does DuckDuck-Go generate revenue if it doesn’t track users?
DuckDuck-Go generates revenue through advertising that is not based on user data. Instead, ads are contextually relevant to the search terms, ensuring privacy.
Is my personal information safe with DuckDuck-Go’s browser extension?
Yes, DuckDuck-Go’s browser extension enhances your online security by blocking trackers and encrypting connections, ensuring your personal information remains safe.
Can I use DuckDuck-Go on mobile devices?
Absolutely. DuckDuck-Go provides mobile apps for various platforms, allowing you to enjoy its privacy-focused search on your mobile devices.
In a digital landscape where privacy is a growing concern, DuckDuckGo stands out as a beacon of trust and security. Its commitment to privacy, no-tracking policy, and robust security mechanisms make it a reliable choice for those seeking a safer and more private online search experience. With DuckDuck-Go, you can explore the web with confidence, knowing that your personal information remains protected.
The Significance of Proper Support in Sportswear for Exercise
When purchasing exercise clothing, the aspect of support is often overlooked. Sportswear companies tend to prioritise features such as moisture-wicking materials and convenient pockets. However, we believe that support is a crucial aspect of dressing for workouts, as it ensures both comfort and optimal performance. Support can be seen as the intersection of sportswear and shapewear. Therefore, it is essential to understand the significance of appropriate support during physical activity and know where to find it.
The Shapewear Crossover
Supportive sportswear primarily functions through gentle compression. It maintains stability and keeps your body secure while you engage in physical activity. Common characteristics between Standard shapewear and sports bras can be found. Both utilise specialised, flexible materials to offer body support. They are also designed with minimal seams to prevent discomfort and ensure discreteness. Additionally, the emphasis on comfort remains consistent for both types of apparel. As a result, similar principles apply when it comes to providing optimal body support.
What kind of support should your athletic apparel provide?
When engaging in physical activities, it is important to wear clothing that provides stability, regardless of the intensity. Whether you are running a marathon or practising yoga, your Sports bras and briefs should not cause any discomfort or irritation. In this article, we will explore the areas of the body that require support from sportswear.
A sports bra is essential for any physical activity, regardless of intensity. It serves as the ultimate supportive sportswear, providing both comfort and stability. By minimizing excessive movement, it helps prevent discomfort in the breast and back areas. With the multitude of options available, finding the perfect sports bra style depends on factors such as your breast size, the type of sport you engage in, and your preferred method of wearing and removing it.
If you’ve ever dealt with back pain, you understand the significance of a well-fitting bra. A sports bra that offers adequate support helps minimize the strain on your muscles and ligaments, preventing discomfort and soreness in your back. Additionally, it alleviates upper back and shoulder pain commonly associated with the weight of larger breasts.
Those who possess knowledge on the matter may opt to provide support to their waist and stomach by wearing sports underwear or leggings. Both options are equally effective. It is advisable to seek out high-waisted compression garments with a wide waistband, as they contribute to the stability and strength of your torso, which is vital in preventing injuries. By promoting stability and offering support to the abdomen, these garments also aid in preventing chafing and can boost your confidence, allowing you to elevate your performance.
In recent years we’ve definitely seen a shift in the fashion industry, with influencers and celebrities placing pressure on the high street to make plus-size fashion more accessible for all. Nowadays, Sportswear is highly demanding as demonstrated by plus size UK influencers.
The advantages of wearing supportive sportswear
The support provided by activewear has a tangible influence on your sports performance and how your body reacts to exercise. It’s no wonder that many women opt for activewear as their everyday clothing choice.
The incorporation of compression panels in clothing such as high-waisted underwear or leggings can enhance your posture. Maintaining a strong and stable posture is crucial during physical activities to prevent injuries. Whether you engage in sports like tennis, running, or weightlifting, having adequate support around your torso can significantly benefit you.
The crucial aspect of effective sportswear is its ability to provide comfort. It is important to ensure that your sportswear does not constrict your breathing. To find comfortable and supportive garments, opt for those with extended panels made of lightweight fabrics that wick away moisture. These fabrics are not only lightweight but also provide support to your body while minimising the risk of chafing. Additionally, an increasing number of garments are being designed without hems, allowing them to sit smoothly against your skin without causing any discomfort.
Compression is commonly utilised in shapewear to create a desired figure, but in the context of sportswear, it can actually improve your performance. Whether it’s in the form of socks or leggings, compression technology promotes better blood circulation to targeted areas like your legs. This increased blood flow intensifies your exercise routine and contributes to faster recovery.
The finest athletic attire should not only prioritise fashion and technology. Its primary function is to provide stability to your core, enabling you to engage in activities comfortably and confidently. This underscores the significance of support, which is crucial not just during physical exertion but also in day-to-day life.
Exploring Alternative Sentencing Options: Understanding the Potential for No Jail Time in 2nd Offense DWI Cases in Texas:
While Texas has some of the most drunk drivers in the country, the state also has some of the strictest DWI penalties. Despite how common a Texas DWI and 2nd DWI can be (with over 30% of DWI convicts reoffending), a 2nd DWI conviction will land you at least 72 hours in county jail and possibly even a year. Although many will agree that the punishment fits the crime, a 2nd DWI charge can be a telltale sign of alcohol addiction, and can often require rehabilitation that a jail sentence cannot offer. Luckily enough, there are several ways you can avoid a conviction for a 2nd DWI in Texas to receive no jail time and focus on your rehabilitation.
An Expert DWI Attorney:
Since mandatory jail time can only be avoided by avoiding conviction, a skilled DWI attorney is crucial to any option you explore. A 2nd DWI charge requires the same amount of evidence as a 1st DWI charge, and can often be defended with the same tactics. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a DWI attorney may be able to scrutinize a field sobriety test, the administration of a breathalyzer test, or the constitutionality of a traffic stop. Always inquire about the potential for a successful defense before you set your mind on other options, as dismissal or acquittal is the only way to circumvent all penalties of a 2nd DWI in Texas no jail time. If an expert attorney determines that your case won’t fare well at trial they can petition for probation or a DWI court to proceed over your case, or negotiate a plea for you.
Many of Texas’ major cities offer a DWI court program as a way to avoid jail for DWI 2nd offenders or defendants who show signs of alcoholism. DWI court is similar to probation but heavily emphasizes rehabilitation. A program will typically involve common aspects of community supervision, routine attendance at outpatient programs, and meetings between you, a judge, a probation officer, and a counselor. If you do not abide by the court’s rules or mandatory programs your case can go back to court and you will likely go to jail. A DWI court program is at least a year, but the length and regimen can be augmented depending on a defendant’s progress. Upon a judge “graduating” you from DWI court your sentence will be fulfilled. DWI court not only allows you to avoid jail time but is known to reduce DWI recidivism rates by as much as 12%.
With Texas’ criminal justice system being notoriously arduous, nearly 30% of all DWIs are reduced to lesser charges to avoid the hassle of a trial. In cases without aggravating factors such as an enhanced blood alcohol concentration, a child passenger, or an accident, a 2nd DWI charge can be bargained down to a minimum sentence or reduced charges. To be considered for a plea deal, a defendant will usually have to show personal growth and remorse. This is typically done by issuing a statement to the court, installing an ignition interlock in your vehicle, or attending DWI education courses or outpatient. If you plea to a minimum sentence you will likely still face 72 hours in jail and probation. While it’s uncommon for a 2nd DWI plea deal in Texas to receive no jail time, this is not impossible if your charges are reduced to reckless driving or obstruction of a highway.
Don’t Drink and Drive:
72 hours in jail is considered the mandatory minimum sentence for a 2nd DWI conviction and those facing charges are unlikely to see no jail time. The only guaranteed way to avoid jail is to avoid drinking and driving. With a drunk driving fatality occurring every 8.5 hours in Texas and over 10% of Texans reporting involvement in a drunk driving crash sometime in their lives, don’t fall under the impression that you are immune to the consequences of a DWI. Always make sure that you have a designated driver or extra money for an Uber when you go out drinking, it can save someone’s life and protect your future.
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