Nemty Ransomware Spreads via Love Letter Emails

Additional Insights by Joel Arvin Merete

Threat actors are distributing Nemty ransomware through a spam campaign using emails that pose as messages from lovers, according to a report by Malwarebytes and X-Force Iris researchers. Trend Micro researchers also encountered the emails. The malicious JavaScript file contained in the attachments is detected by Trend Micro as Trojan.JS.NEMTY.THBBHBO.

The email commonly had subjects that included “My love,” “Don’t tell anyone,” “You should read this,” “Will be our secret,” “Can’t forget you,” “Letter for you,” “Just for you,” and “My loveletter.” The emails contain only a wink emoticon in its email body. They include ZIP file attachments with the file name formatted as The ZIP files contain a malicious obfuscated JavaScript file named LOVE_YOU.js.

Nemty ransomware was first discovered in August 2019. It resurfaced on November 2019 and was distributed using the Phorpiex botnet. The new samples likewise use the Phorpiex botnet to send spam emails. Cybercriminals behind the ransomware threaten to leak stolen data if the ransom is not paid, an extortion threat similar to other ransomware variants like Maze that go beyond encrypting files on the device.

Figure 1. Nemty love letter email sample

Defending against ransomware

Ransomware can cause hundred thousands of dollars’ worth of losses, either through the value of lost files or through paying the ransom to avoid the downtime and data loss caused by the infection.  According to the Trend Micro Annual Security Roundup, the detection of ransomware-related threats surged from over 55 million in 2018 to over 61 million in 2019, showing the threat’s continued proliferation. Besides the increase in number, ransomware variants are also continually evolving with increased complexity.

Like Nemty, other recently discovered ransomware families don’t just stop with file encryption. They also include abilities that steal files (Maze), force Windows machines to reboot into safe mode to bypass security software (Snatch), and end various processes (Zeppelin).

Enterprises and individual users can follow a few best practices to prevent a ransomware infection or mitigate the effects of an attack:

  • Don’t download attachments or click URL Links in emails from unknown senders
  • Back up important files
  • Install the latest updates and patches to address software vulnerabilities

A multilayered security strategy can be used to thwart ransomware across the network. Add more layers of protection through solutions such as XGen™ Security: Trend Micro Email Security for email and web protection, Trend Micro Apex One™ for endpoints, Trend Micro™ Deep Discovery™ for network protection, and Trend Micro™ Deep Security™ for server protection.

Indicator of compromise

SHA 256 Trend Micro Pattern Detection
f3e743c919c1deaf5108d361c4ff610187606f450fabda0bea3786d4063511b1 Trojan.JS.NEMTY.THBBHBO

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