12428175857?profile=RESIZE_400xAs if things were not messy enough in the Change Healthcare attack, a second cybercriminal gang RansomHub is trying to exhort the company's parent, UnitedHealth Group, and have it pay another ransom for data that an affiliate of Ransomware-as-a-Service group BlackCat claims to have stolen in February 2024.   Threat intelligence firm SOCRadar in a recent blog post said RansomHub is threatening to sell "to the highest bidder" 4 terabytes of "highly sensitive data" stolen in the Change Healthcare attack.[1]

See:  https://redskyalliance.org/xindustry/the-blackcat-is-back

UnitedHealth Group had reportedly paid BlackCat, also known as Alphv, a $22 million ransom for a decryptor key and to prevent a data leak in the aftermath of the 21 February 2024 attack.  The latest ransom demand underscores why cybercriminals cannot be trusted, according to cybersecurity experts.

Within a month of the attack and ransom demand, a BlackCat affiliate who took credit for the Change Healthcare attack subsequently claimed BlackCat kept all of the ransom payment, rather than sharing the affiliate's cut.  For most groups, affiliates receive 70% or 80% of every ransom paid.   But shortly after the affiliate said they were stiffed out of their share of the Change Healthcare ransom, BlackCat's Tor-based data leak site shut down last month, and its web page simply said: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation seized this site as part of a coordinated law enforcement action taken against Alphv/Blackcat ransomware."

While a joint law enforcement operation did seize BlackCat's infrastructure in December 2023 and temporarily disrupted the group, law enforcement officials deny taking the operation down a second time in the wake of the Change Healthcare attack, fueling speculation that BlackCat was pulling an exit scam.   Now RansomHub said on its dark web site: "ALPHV stole the $22 million USD ransom that Change Healthcare and UnitedHealth paid in order to restore their systems and prevent the data leak. However, we have the data, not ALPHV."  The data consists of over 4 terabytes of information that relates to "all Change Healthcare clients that have sensitive data being processed by the company," RansomHub said.

RansomHub claims the stolen Change Healthcare data pertains to "millions" of active US military and Navy personnel, medical and dental records, payment and claims information, patient Social Security numbers and other personal information, insurance records, 3,000-plus source code files for Change Healthcare solutions, "and many more."

UnitedHealth in a statement said it knows about the RansomHub claims.  "We are aware of these reports and continue to work with the authorities," the company said. It declined to make further comment.  "I suspect this is what it seems to be: a scammed affiliate attempting to get paid.  That said, there are multiple other options too, including RansomHub being an Alphv rebrand or it being a complete bluff with RansomHub having no data at all," an investigator reported.  "As law enforcement ramps up counter-ransomware efforts, it's not unlikely that we'll see more incidents like this, with the criminals scamming each other, scamming victims and trying to create confusion in order to evade sanctions."

Yossi Rachman, senior director of research at security firm Semperis, also said the RansomHub claims could indicate a number of potential scenarios playing out.  "It's possible, just like in most breaches, that Change couldn't secure itself in time to prevent additional breaches exploiting the same or similar attack vectors," he said.  "In this case, and since Change became a very lucrative target as it's already shown willingness to pay ransom, the motivation for continuous attacks against Change is exceptionally high."

RansomHub appears to have been established recently - sometime around February 2024, Rachman said.  "It's also possible that affiliates claiming to have been scammed by BlackCat/Alphv started their own alternative ransomware group.  This would definitely explain the specific way RansomHub operates its affiliate model, where money arrives at affiliates first and only then 10% of it goes to the actual ransomware group."

RansomHub states it does not allow targeting of North Korea, China, Cuba and the Commonwealth of Independent States.  The CIS is a group of nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, excluding Georgia and Ukraine, two countries Russia had waged war against, Rachman said.  "To this respect it seems RansomHub is either sponsored, operated by, or working from the Russian Federation or for the benefit of Russian interests," he said.  Previous RansomHub attacks hit targets in the U.S., Brazil and Southeast Asia, in several industries not limited to healthcare, Rachman said.

UnitedHealth Group and its Change Healthcare unit are still working to restore all IT services disrupted by the February 2024 attack and are facing more than two dozen proposed class action lawsuits filed in recent days and weeks.

This article is presented at no charge for educational and informational purposes only.

Red Sky Alliance is a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization.     For questions, comments, or assistance, please get in touch with the office directly at 1-844-492-7225 or feedback@redskyalliance.com    

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[1] https://www.databreachtoday.com/second-gang-shakes-down-unitedhealth-group-for-ransom-a-24803

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