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BlackSuit Ransomware Impacts CDK Global

June 25, 2024 | 4 MINS READ

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On June 19th, CDK Global, a major provider of technology solutions for automotive dealerships, experienced a significant operational disruption due to a ransomware attack executed by the BlackSuit ransomware group. This incident led to a widespread outage affecting over 15,000 car dealerships across the United States and Canada.

The ransomware attack has halted critical services provided by CDK Global, including dealer management systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, and other essential software solutions. This has forced many dealerships to revert to manual processes, significantly slowing down their operations, affecting sales and service capabilities.

The attackers have demanded a multi-million-dollar ransom to restore the affected systems. Although the specific amount has not been publicly disclosed, it has been reported to be in the tens of millions. CDK is negotiating with BlackSuit and, according to sources familiar with the matter, is planning to make the payment. There is currently speculation that the ransom demand has already been met. CDK publicly stated on June 22nd that full restoration is expected in several days, as opposed to weeks. The average recovery time from a ransomware attack without paying the ransom is approximately three weeks. Despite this speculation, a spokesperson declined to comment on a potential ransom payment.

The eSentire Threat Intelligence team assesses that it is almost certain BlackSuit will continue performing ransomware attacks throughout 2024, barring significant law-enforcement intervention. In the event of successful ransomware deployment, organizations are strongly encouraged to avoid ransom payment. Paying an extortion demand does not guarantee decryption or the deletion of stolen data.

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BlackSuit ransomware emerged in May 2023 as a rebrand of the Royal ransomware gang. This group is known to perform double-extortion, where data is exfiltrated prior to encryption, and stolen data is publicly released via a leak site if an extortion demand is not met. According to public reports, the group primarily targets healthcare, education, Information Technology (IT), communications, government, retail, and manufacturing industries in the United States. This pattern of targeting indicates a financial motive, concentrating on key industries that likely have limited cybersecurity budgets OR those which cannot afford significant downtime. This increases the odds of a successful attack or a quick ransom payment to avoid disruption.

For initial access into organization, BlackSuit has been identified employing various methods. These include phishing, abuse of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), exploitation of vulnerabilities in Internet-facing applications, and purchasing stealer logs and credentials via darkweb marketplaces. Once access is established, BlackSuit has been observed using PsExec, RDP, and Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools, including AnyDesk, LogMeIn, and Atera for lateral movement and persistence. Kerberoasting via the Rubeus tool is used to collect additional credentials from compromised devices. Victim data is exfiltrated using tools including 7Zip, WinSCP, and File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

While the initial access method employed by BlackSuit to access CDK Global has not been publicly disclosed, the eSentire Threat Intelligence team was able to identify a large number of CDK domains in credential logs being sold online. These credential logs may be purchased and could be employed to access CDK, assuming that the credentials remain valid.

Following the initial ransomware attack on CDK Global, the company has issued a warning to its customers about threat actors impersonating CDK support representatives. These actors are attempting to gain unauthorized access by contacting customers directly. The attackers are using social engineering techniques, including phone calls and possibly email, to deceive customers into revealing sensitive information or granting system access. In their warning, CDK stated "CDK associates are not contacting customers for access to their environment or systems."


[1] https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/cdk-global-outage-caused-by-blacksuit-ransomware-attack/
[2] https://archive.ph/Y7iyQ
[3] https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/23/business/cdk-cyber-attack-global-outage/index.html
[4] https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/cdk-hackers-want-millions-in-ransom-to-end-car-dealership-outage-bloomberg-news-reports-1.6936612
[5] https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/cdk-warns-threat-actors-are-calling-customers-posing-as-support/
[6] https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1043509/000104350924000059/sah-20240619.htm
[7] https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa23-061a
[8] https://www.govinfosecurity.com/cdk-begins-restoring-systems-amid-ransomware-payment-reports-a-25605

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