Recent observations made by cyber security researchers have led many to believe that the REvil ransomware group, or another group with ties to REvil, is operating a new ransomware operation.
Sometimes referred to as Sodinokibi, REvil was responsible for some of the most high-profile ransomware attacks of 2021, including the hacks on JBS Foods and Kaseya, before shutting down towards the end of the year.
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Some researchers noted the return of REvil’s ‘happy blog’ - the place where it announced its hacks - on 19 April, returning an Nginx 404 error. Others said the signs of a return started as far back as December, one month after law enforcement made the original arrests of the gang members.
Using the TOR onion address used for REvil’s original happy blog, prospective visitors are now redirected to a new website where there are currently 26 pages filled with details of the group’s successful hacks, largely old hacks previously claimed by REvil.
Among the new additions is Oil India, which disclosed a cyber security incident last week, and Visotec Group, which has not publicly disclosed any breach yet, and its website is still online.
The blog notes that Oil India will not continue a negotiation process, a decision that has led the group to leak internal financial documents and contracts.
In addition to the old happy blog onion link redirecting to the new site, another observation made by researchers was that REvil’s old TOR payment domains are also redirecting to the new blog too.
The new blog also has a recruitment page that details the proposed 80/20 split of the ransom payment between the gang itself and the hacker who breached a company, plus details on how to demonstrate experience with hacking.
Although a concrete connection between the emergence of the new blog and REvil cannot definitively be made, whoever placed the redirect on
Although an official announcement has not been made linking the new blog to the REvil gang, the individuals responsible for placing a redirect on REvil’s old website and payment link would have had access to the old infrastructure, leading many to believe the notorious ransomware operators are back.
The announcement comes weeks after a Russian official claimed the US ceased negotiations with the country on matters of cyber security, suggesting the US was the aggressor in cyber space, not Russia.
The cyber security authorities of Five Eyes alliance members also reiterated on Wednesday that organisations should prepare for Russian state-sponsored cyber attacks, particularly focused on critical infrastructure.
A brief history of REvil
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REvil is a ransomware group believed to be based in Russia and has claimed responsibility for numerous hacks involving ransomware in recent years.
Days after the massively impactful hack on Kaseya in 2021, REvil disappeared for months, many presuming they attracted too much attention from law enforcement given the global disruption it caused.
REvil briefly reactivated parts of its infrastructure months later, including its original happy blog and the online portal it used to negotiate ransom payments with victims.
International law enforcement agencies arrested several Ukrainian and Russian alleged REvil members in November, with the Russian state also arresting more individuals in January of this year, leading some experts into believing the move could be used as political leverage against the US.
It’s common for ransomware groups to go through periods of activity and inactivity, the latter of which is usually masked behind a fake ‘shutdown’ before the group resurfaces under a new branding and a fresh moniker.
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Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.