Cerber ransomware kills database connections to access important data

The program tries to terminate common database-related processes like those of the MySQL, Oracle and Microsoft SQL servers

In order to encrypt some of the most important data stored on computers and servers, the Cerber ransomware now tries to kill processes associated with database servers.

The goal for ransomware programs is to affect as many valuable files as possible in order to increase the chance that affected users will pay to have them restored. For consumers these files are things like personal photos, videos, documents and even game saves, but for businesses, its usually data stored in databases.

The problem for hackers is that write access to database files can be blocked by the OS if they're already being used by other processes, which prevents the ransomware program from encrypting them.

According to experts from computer support forum BleepingComputer.com, to solve this problem, the latest version of Cerber attempts to terminate many database-related processes: msftesql.exe, sqlagent.exe, sqlbrowser.exe, sqlservr.exe, sqlwriter.exe, oracle.exe, ocssd.exe, dbsnmp.exe, synctime.exe, mydesktopqos.exe, agntsvc.exeisqlplussvc.exe, xfssvccon.exe, mydesktopservice.exe, ocautoupds.exe, agntsvc.exeagntsvc.exe, agntsvc.exeencsvc.exe, firefoxconfig.exe, tbirdconfig.exe, ocomm.exe, mysqld.exe, mysqld-nt.exe, mysqld-opt.exe, dbeng50.exe and sqbcoreservice.exe.

Cerber is sold on the underground market as a service and has affected computer users worldwide.  The program is used by cybercriminals who pay its creators a consistent part of their earnings. Researchers estimate that the Cerber gang will earn over $1 million this year.

With ransomware attacks switching focus from consumers to businesses, it's important for companies to identify and isolate their most important data assets through strong access controls.

In order to kill other processes, ransomware programs need to run from privileged accounts, so employees should perform their daily activities from limited accounts. Administrator accounts should be disabled on workstations.

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Lucian Constantin

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
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