Newly found ransomware makes use of BitLocker to encrypt sufferer information | Digital Noch

Newly found ransomware makes use of BitLocker to encrypt sufferer information | Digital Noch

A beforehand unknown piece of ransomware, dubbed ShrinkLocker, encrypts sufferer information utilizing the BitLocker characteristic constructed into the Home windows working system.

BitLocker is a full-volume encryptor that debuted in 2007 with the discharge of Home windows Vista. Customers make use of it to encrypt complete laborious drives to forestall individuals from studying or modifying information within the occasion they get bodily entry to the disk. Beginning with the rollout of Home windows 10, BitLocker by default has used the 128-bit and 256-bit XTS-AES encryption algorithm, giving the characteristic further safety from assaults that depend on manipulating cipher textual content to trigger predictable adjustments in plain textual content.

Not too long ago, researchers from safety agency Kaspersky discovered a menace actor utilizing BitLocker to encrypt information on programs positioned in Mexico, Indonesia, and Jordan. The researchers named the brand new ransomware ShrinkLocker, each for its use of BitLocker and since it shrinks the scale of every non-boot partition by 100 MB and splits the newly unallocated house into new major partitions of the identical dimension.

“Our incident response and malware evaluation are proof that attackers are continuously refining their ways to evade detection,” the researchers wrote Friday. “On this incident, we noticed the abuse of the native BitLocker characteristic for unauthorized information encryption.”

ShrinkLocker isn’t the primary malware to leverage BitLocker. In 2022, Microsoft reported that ransomware attackers with a nexus to Iran additionally used the software to encrypt information. That very same yr, the Russian agricultural enterprise Miratorg was attacked by ransomware that used BitLocker to encrypt information residing within the system storage of contaminated units.

As soon as put in on a tool, ShrinkLocker runs a VisualBasic script that first invokes the Home windows Administration Instrumentation and Win32_OperatingSystem class to acquire details about the working system.

“For every object inside the question outcomes, the script checks if the present area is totally different from the goal,” the Kaspersky researchers wrote. “Whether it is, the script finishes routinely. After that, it checks if the title of the working system comprises ‘xp,’ ‘2000,’ ‘2003,’ or ‘vista,’ and if the Home windows model matches any one in all these, the script finishes routinely and deletes itself.”

Enlarge / A screenshot exhibiting preliminary situations for execution.


The script then continues to make use of the WMI for querying details about the OS. It goes on to carry out the disk resizing operations, which may fluctuate relying on the OS model detected. The ransomware performs these operations solely on native, mounted drives. The choice to depart community drives alone is probably going motivated by the will to not set off community detection protections.

Finally, ShrinkLocker disables protections designed to safe the BitLocker encryption key and goes on to delete them. It then permits the usage of a numerical password, each as a protector in opposition to anybody else taking again management of BitLocker and as an encryptor for system information. The explanation for deleting the default protectors is to disable key restoration options by the machine proprietor. ShrinkLocker then goes on to generate a 64-character encryption key utilizing random multiplication and alternative of:

  • A variable with the numbers 0–9;
  • The well-known pangram, “The short brown fox jumps over the lazy canine,” in lowercase and uppercase, which comprises each letter of the English alphabet;
  • Particular characters.

After a number of extra steps, information is encrypted. The following time the machine reboots, the show appears like this:

Screenshot showing the BitLocker recovery screen.
Enlarge / Screenshot exhibiting the BitLocker restoration display.


Decrypting drives with out the attacker-supplied key’s tough and certain unimaginable in lots of circumstances. Whereas it’s doable to get well a few of the passphrases and glued values used to generate the keys, the script makes use of variable values which are totally different on every contaminated machine. These variable values aren’t straightforward to get well.

There are not any protections particular to ShrinkLocker for stopping profitable assaults. Kaspersky advises the next:

  • Use strong, correctly configured endpoint safety to detect threats that attempt to abuse BitLocker;
  • Implement Managed Detection and Response (MDR) to proactively scan for threats;
  • If BitLocker is enabled, be sure that it makes use of a robust password and that the restoration keys are saved in a safe location;
  • Make sure that customers have solely minimal privileges. This prevents them from enabling encryption options or altering registry keys on their very own;
  • Allow community site visitors logging and monitoring. Configure the logging of each GET and POST requests. In case of an infection, the requests made to the attacker’s area might include passwords or keys;
  • Monitor for occasions related to VBS execution and PowerShell, then save the logged scripts and instructions to an exterior repository storing exercise that could be deleted regionally;
  • Make backups regularly, retailer them offline, and check them.

Friday’s report additionally contains indicators that organizations can use to find out if they’ve been focused by ShrinkLocker.

Itemizing picture by Getty Photographs

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