Home Cyber UK and US-based investigations target harmful international cyber campaigns

UK and US-based investigations target harmful international cyber campaigns

by Brian Sims

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has formally charged the leader of an organised cyber criminal group for their involvement in a malicious campaign affecting Government, infrastructure, business and the public globally. UK and US-based investigations by the National Crime Agency (NCA), the FBI and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have revealed the creation and deployment of Dridex malware has caused financial losses of hundreds of millions in the UK alone.

Paul Chichester, the NCSC’s director of operations, commented: “This announcement is the result of a multi-year investigation with our law enforcement and international partners. Dridex has been targeting UK victims since at least 2014, compromising and stealing from large organisations, SMEs and the general public alike. Malware is a continuing cyber threat, but we can all reduce our risk of becoming victims to cyber criminals by ensuring that our devices are patched, anti-virus is turned on and up-to-date and files are backed up.”

Dridex is a strain of malware known as a financial trojan that has been affecting the UK since late 2014. Its victims cover Government, Critical National Infrastructure, business and the public.

Dridex infects devices through a variety of means. Frequently, this is done via malicious attachments in phishing e-mails, or it’s dropped by another piece of existing malware, for example Emotet.

Range of capabilities

Once active on a compromised computer, Dridex has a wide range of capabilities. Most commonly, it steals a user’s passwords, personal information and banking details for use in fraudulent transactions. It can do this even when web browsing would be considered otherwise secure (eg over HTTPS).

Dridex also has the capability to monitor other activity on a computer, allowing malicious actors to take screenshots and upload and download files and tools. Those responsible can use additional tools to help them move through a victim’s network.

This is of particular use when attacking businesses. Actors may choose to move on to business-critical systems, such as payroll, and deploy tools like ransomware.

Cyber criminals manage Dridex through a large system of compromised computers worldwide known as a botnet. Through this system, they’re able to pull back the stolen data and issue their commands, conducting crimes at a vast scale.

Reducing the infection risk

The NCSC has previously published guidance on how organisations can reduce their risk of malware infection.

If you think you’ve been subject to online fraud or cyber crime, contact Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk

The NCSC runs a commercial scheme call ‘Cyber Incident Response’, whereby certified companies provide crisis support to affected organisations. More information on how and when to report an incident to the NCSC.

Advice on how to effectively detect, respond to and resolve cyber incidents is also contained within the NCSC’s incident management guidance.

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