Cybersecurity experts have uncovered a prolific threat actor known as “farnetwork” who has been intricately involved with five different ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) programs over the last four years. This revelation emerged as a result of investigative work by Singapore-based Group-IB.
In an attempt to infiltrate a private RaaS program utilizing the Nokoyawa ransomware, the researchers underwent a “job interview” process with farnetwork, gaining valuable insights into the actor’s background and multifaceted role within these malicious schemes. Farnetwork’s cybercriminal journey began in 2019, participating in ransomware projects like JSWORM, Nefilim, Karma, and Nemty before launching their own RaaS program based on the Nokoyawa ransomware.
What makes farnetwork particularly concerning is its ability to operate under various aliases, including farnetworkit, farnetworkl, jingo, jsworm, piparkuka, and razvrat, on different underground forums. Initially known for advertising a remote access trojan called RazvRAT, farnetwork shifted its focus in 2022 to Nokoyawa and even launched a botnet service, providing affiliates with access to compromised corporate networks.
This threat actor is actively linked to the recruitment of candidates for the Nokoyawa RaaS program, specifically seeking individuals who can facilitate privilege escalation using stolen corporate account credentials, deploy ransomware, and demand ransoms in exchange for decryption keys.
Farnetwork’s operations are further complicated by its use of a unique hard-coded command and control (C2) server for each GootBot sample it deploys, making it challenging to block malicious traffic effectively. The RaaS model adopted by farnetwork offers affiliates a significant share of the ransom amount (65%), providing the botnet owner with 20%, and the ransomware developer with 15%.
This approach allows affiliates to leverage pre-existing access to corporate networks provided by the RaaS manager, streamlining ransomware operations. The discovery of farnetwork’s extensive involvement in RaaS programs underscores the ever-evolving tactics and tools used by cyber adversaries.
While Nokoyawa ceased its operations in October 2023, there is a high likelihood that farnetwork may resurface under a new identity, emphasizing the persistent challenge posed by skilled and adaptable threat actors in the cybersecurity landscape.