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NCC Group Monthly Threat Pulse November 2021. Illustrated wireframe cityscape in futuristic style. Royalty-free stock vector ID: 1335323081.
NCC Group Monthly Threat Pulse November 2021. Illustrated wireframe cityscape in futuristic style. Royalty-free stock vector ID: 1335323081.

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NCC Group Monthly Threat Pulse – November 2021

  • 1.9% increase in ransomware attacks compared to October
  • 50% increase in organisations targeted by PYSA ransomware, with a 400% rise in government sector victims
  • North America and Europe continued to be the most targeted regions in November, with 154 and 96 victims respectively

NCC Group’s Strategic Threat Intelligence team has identified PYSA and Lockbit as the threat actors dominating the ransomware landscape in November. Since August this year, Conti and Lockbit have been the top threat groups, but in November, PYSA, also known as Mespinoza, overtook Conti with an increase of 50%. Meanwhile, the prevalence of Conti decreased by 9.1%.

PYSA is a malware capable of exfiltrating data and encrypting users’ critical files and data, which typically targets large or high-value finance, government and healthcare organisations.

Both North America and Europe continue to be the most targeted regions in November, with 154 and 96 victims respectively. In North America, organisations in the US experienced 140 of these attacks, while Canada experienced 14.

In Europe, the top targeted countries included the UK and France, with Italy and Germany sharing third place. Each of these countries experienced 32, 14, and 11 attacks respectively in November.

The industrials sector continued to be the most targeted sector in November. Meanwhile,automotive, housing, entertainment, and retail businesses overtook technology this month, with attacks targeting the sector decreasing by 38.1%.

Spotlight on the Everest ransomware group

Over the last year, NCC Group has seen threat actors emerge and adopt new tactics to achieve their aims. The Russian-speaking Everest Group is a perfect example of this, and are taking hack and leak campaigns a step further.

In November, the group offered paid access to the IT infrastructure of their victims, as well as threatening to release stolen data if the victim refused to pay a ransom. This included data related to the Argentine Government, Peru’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Brazilian Police.

While selling ransomware-as-a-service has seen a surge in popularity over the last year, this is a rare instance of a group forgoing a request for a ransom and offering access to IT infrastructure – but we may see copycat attacks in 2022 and beyond.

While this report focuses on November activity, NCC Group’s Strategic Threat Intelligence team have also been closely monitoring exploitation of the Log4Shell vulnerability, disclosed in December. For more information and up-to-date advice, take a look at our dedicated recommendations and resources page.

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