Microsoft Warns of new Java-Based “PonyFinal” Ransomware Used as Part of Human-Operated Attacks

Savvy has been partnering with KnowBe4 for many years, providing our law firm clients with the world’s best security awareness training program. KnowBe4 was founded by Kevin Mitnick, a hacker-turned-legitimate-businessman, and the company’s security awareness training programs are considered the best defense against corporate hacks.

KnowBe4 monitors the universe of cybercrime and they recently ran an article about Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Analytics, which we felt compelled to share below. Be sure to read the bottom of this article to see an offer for a free Ransomware Simulator Test.

“PonyFinal” and Human-Operated Attacks

Microsoft recently detailed a new Java attack that uses PowerShell and other legitimate tools to infect victims with ransomware, and it sheds light on human-operated attacks.

According to Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Analytics, the median number of days an attacker sits within your network undetected is 146 days. This new PonyFinal ransomware demonstrates this behavior.

According to Microsoft, attackers in this case put a human touch on the attack, not leveraging automation, but are patient and are looking for victims of opportunity rather than trying to hit everyone and anyone.

By first compromising internet-facing web systems, attackers compromise privileged credentials and use PowerShell tools and service accounts to obtain access to the victim network. In most cases, the attackers focus on endpoints where the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is installed. Then, according to Microsoft, attackers “stay dormant and wait for the most opportune time to deploy the [PonyFinal] payload.”

Microsoft recommends a layered security approach that includes both proactive and reactive protective measures. We’ll add that in cases where the initial attack vector is phishing, shoring up the user’s sense of security via Security Awareness Training is critical to avoid the installation of Trojans and other types of malware that will eventually download a ransomware payload.

Free Ransomware Simulator Test

Bad guys are constantly coming out with new strains to evade detection. Is your network effective in blocking all of them when employees fall for social engineering attacks?

KnowBe4’s “RanSim” gives you a quick look at the effectiveness of your existing network protection. RanSim will simulate 18 ransomware infection scenarios and 1 cryptomining infection scenario and show you if a workstation is vulnerable.

Here’s how it works:

  • 100% harmless simulation of real ransomware and cryptomining infections
  • Does not use any of your own files
  • Tests 19 types of infection scenarios
  • Just download the install and run it
  • Results in a few minutes

Savvy can get you this tool for free, giving you quick insights into your network’s weak spots. Contact me today for your free Ransomware Simulator test.


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