[devnexus 2022] java and ransomware

Speaker: Steve Poole

Twitter: @spoole167

Link to table of contents


Ransomware crimes

  • robbery
  • blackmail
  • extortion
  • revege
  • murder – ex: hospital attacks


  • files gone
  • files corrupt
  • unexpected files on system – obvious so believe it is real
  • prevent logging on
  • threats to delete or publish data
  • link to cryptocurrency wallet and amount – hard to trace

How get into system

  • Phishing – Impersonate boss, etc. Significant targetted social engineering. Understand business/context. Attachment with malware
  • Malware – mostly Windows
  • Government #1 target. Then education/services/health care/tech/manufacturing/retail/utilities/finance
  • Target single company or org. Look for poor security hygene
  • Vulnerabiliteis/CVEs
  • Suply chain attacks
  • Remote code execution

Once have access

  • Pull encrypton keys
  • Encrypt files not used often first
  • Then encrypt files used in memory so works until restart
  • Gigabytes/terrabytes of data – takes time
  • Would notice if network got slow so sneaky
  • Copy critical data out disguised as normal traffic. Hide in other payloads
  • Sometimes responses to ”legit” request
  • Almost always via botnets
  • Paying helps fund more
  • Rare to shut down. Instance of giving up decryption keys when one group folded


  • Data kidnapping – pay or release data
  • Blackmail – dirty payments, porn
  • Revenge – disgruntled employee, cripple systems
  • Competitor – wipe you out/steal secrets
  • Worse – weaponsized attacks from nation states
  • Some of these cases do not intend to give data back
  • Cybercrime beat drugs in value
  • Ransomware is worth 6 trillion


  • Can be test case to see if can get in
  • Goal is to infiltrate infrastructure and essential serices quietly so can manipulate/terminate when need
  • Break supply chain


  • Used to wait for vulnerability to be announced and build attack. Now create own.
  • Open source repo attacks – attempts to get malware into source
  • Typosquatting – lookalike domain/dependency with minor typo
  • Build tool attacks – attempts to get malware into tools tat produce dependency
  • Dependency confusion – later version ex ”latest”
  • Designed to stay hidden until needed


  • Dependency confusion, typosquatting and malicious code injection increased 650% in 2021
  • New world – state funded, professionally developed, regularly exercised very sophisticated and exeremely lucrative
  • Could even be someone at conference – have to gain the skills


  • Being out of action
  • Recovery
  • Data loss – data recovery never 100%
  • Human cost – finger pointing, guilty feelings, feeling of being invaded/not trusting security systems
  • Data integrity – can modify/inject data when return



  • Still lots of log4j downloads (thru 4/11/22)
  • 36% on a day in April were vulnerable
  • Need right tools – check dependencies, not just your pom or in fat jar
  • Try dependabot
  • Write test cases and see if your tool can find

My take

Good collection of info and supporting data. Wrapped in a compelling story. Security talks are often scary and first conference in a while provided more time for bad things to happen!

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