Hive ransomware, which was first observed in June 2021 and likely operates as an affiliate-based ransomware, employs a wide variety of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), creating significant challenges for defense and mitigation. Hive ransomware uses multiple mechanisms to compromise business networks, including phishing emails with malicious attachments to gain access and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to move laterally once on the network.
After compromising a victim network, Hive ransomware actors exfiltrate data and encrypt files on the network. The actors leave a ransom note in each affected directory within a victim’s system, which provides instructions on how to purchase the decryption software. The ransom note also threatens to leak exfiltrated victim data on the Tor site, “HiveLeaks.”
Hive ransomware seeks processes related to backups, anti-virus/anti-spyware, and file copying and terminates them to facilitate file encryption. The encrypted files commonly end with a .hive extension. The Hive ransomware then drops a hive.bat script into the directory, which enforces an execution timeout delay of one second in order to perform cleanup after the encryption is finished by deleting the Hive executable and the hive.bat script. A second file, shadow.bat, is dropped into the directory to delete shadow copies, including disc backup copies or snapshots, without notifying the victim and then deletes the shadow.bat file. During the encryption process, encrypted files are renamed with the double final extension of *.key.hive or *.key.*. The ransom note, “HOW_TO_DECRYPT.txt” is dropped into each affected directory and states the *key.* file cannot be modified, renamed, or deleted, otherwise the encrypted files cannot be recovered. The note contains a “sales department” link, accessible through a TOR browser, enabling victims to contact the actors through a live chat. Some victims reported receiving phone calls from Hive actors requesting payment for their files. The initial deadline for payment fluctuates between 2 to 6 days, but actors have prolonged the deadline in response to contact by the victim company. The ransom note also informs victims that a public disclosure or leak site, accessible on a TOR browser, contains data exfiltrated from victim companies who do not pay the ransom demand.
The following indicators were leveraged by the threat actors during Hive ransomware compromises. Some of these indicators might appear as applications within your enterprise supporting legitimate purposes; however, these applications can be used by threat actors to aid in further malicious exploration of your enterprise. The FBI recommends removing any application not deemed necessary for day-to-day operations.