Black Basta ransomware attacks Yellow Pages Canada

The Canadian Yellow Pages Group has confirmed it recently became victim of a cyberattack. The Black Basta ransomware group has claimed responsibility for this attack by posting about Yellow Pages on the “Basta News” leak site.

When such a post shows up, it usually means that negotiations with the victim have stopped and that the ransomware group is getting ready to sell the data it managed to get its hands on during the attack.

Based on the most recent leaked information and an outage of the Yellow Pages website Canada 411 at the beginning of April, it is likely the attack occurred between March 15 and April 7. Attackers using Black Basta have been known to be active on a victim’s network for two to three days before running their ransomware.

Canada is ranked first if you look at the number of ransomware attacks divided by GDP.

top 10 countries ransomware attacks per GDPNumber of ransomware attacks per $1T GDP

Black Basta is not very different from other ransomware groups in the way it operates. Similar to others, the gang’s attacks frequently begin with initial access gained through phishing attacks. A typical attack might start with an email containing a malicious document in a zip file. Upon extraction, the document installs the Qakbot banking trojan to create backdoor access and deploy SystemBC, which sets up an encrypted connection to a command and control server. From there, CobaltStrike is installed for network reconnaissance and to distribute additional tools.

As is the overarching trend for ransomware groups these days, Black Basta’s primary goal is to steal data so that it can hold the threat of leaked data over its victims. The data is generally stolen using the command line program Rclone, which filters and copies specific files to a cloud service. After the data is copied, the ransomware encrypts files with the “.basta” extension, erases volume shadow copies, and presents a ransom note named readme.txt on affected devices. Attackers using Black Basta may be active on a victim’s network for two to three days before running their ransomware.

On the leak site, Black Basta provided samples of highly sensitive information about several people. Included are copies of Canadian passports, Quebec and British Columbia driver’s licenses, Régie de l’assurance- maladie du Québec (RAMQ health insurance) cards, and a tax return containing one individual’s social insurance number.

Franco Sciannamblo, YP’s Senior Vice President Chief Financial Officer commented in a statement to BleepingComputer:

“Based on our investigation to date, we have reason to believe that the unauthorized third party stole certain personal information from servers containing YP employee data and limited data relating to our business customers.”

All impacted individuals and the appropriate privacy regulatory authorities have been notified about the attack.

How to avoid ransomware

  • Block common forms of entry. Create a plan for patching vulnerabilities in internet-facing systems quickly; disable or harden remote access like RDP and VPNs; use endpoint security software that can detect exploits and malware used to deliver ransomware.
  • Detect intrusions. Make it harder for intruders to operate inside your organization by segmenting networks and assigning access rights prudently. Use EDR or MDR to detect unusual activity before an attack occurs.
  • Stop malicious encryption. Deploy Endpoint Detection and Response software like Malwarebytes EDR that uses multiple different detection techniques to identify ransomware, and ransomware rollback to restore damaged system files.
  • Create offsite, offline backups. Keep backups offsite and offline, beyond the reach of attackers. Test them regularly to make sure you can restore essential business functions swiftly.
  • Don’t get attacked twice. Once you’ve isolated the outbreak and stopped the first attack, you must remove every trace of the attackers, their malware, their tools, and their methods of entry, to avoid being attacked again.

Malwarebytes removes all remnants of ransomware and prevents you from getting reinfected. Want to learn more about how we can help protect your business? Get a free trial below.