U.S. cybersecurity and intelligence agencies have issued a joint advisory highlighting the activities of the cybercriminal group known as Scattered Spider. This threat actor, also recognized as Muddled Libra, Octo Tempest, and other aliases, employs sophisticated phishing tactics for data theft and extortion, recently incorporating BlackCat/ALPHV ransomware into its arsenal.
Furthermore, Scattered Spider is identified as one of the most dangerous financial criminal groups by Microsoft. Known for expertise in social engineering, the group utilizes techniques such as phishing, prompt bombing, and SIM swapping to obtain credentials, install remote access tools, and bypass multi-factor authentication.
Additionally, Scattered Spider, part of the larger Gen Z cybercrime ecosystem known as the Com, has been linked to violent activities and swatting attacks. The cybercriminal group’s tactics include impersonating IT and help desk staff through phone calls or SMS messages, targeting employees to gain elevated access to networks.
Successful initial access is followed by deploying legitimate remote access tunneling tools like Fleetdeck.io, Ngrok, and Pulseway, along with remote access trojans and stealers like AveMaria, Raccoon Stealer, and Vidar Stealer. The group leverages living-off-the-land (LotL) techniques to navigate compromised networks, actively participating in incident response calls to identify security measures and adapt accordingly.
As of mid-2023, Scattered Spider has acted as an affiliate for the BlackCat ransomware gang, monetizing its access for extortion-enabled ransomware attacks and data theft. The U.S. government advises companies to implement phishing-resistant multi-factor authentication, enforce recovery plans, maintain offline backups, and adopt application controls to prevent unauthorized software execution on endpoints.