The Grief ransomware group, which has morphed from the older DoppelPaymer group, posted a notice on its website on the dark web, claiming that there were only two parties that were bothered about the data that was pilfered during an attack: the affected entity and the ransomware gang.
"Police, FBI and Recovery Company™. Who cares about the data in a ransom case?" the group asked.
The Grief operators said they were merely commenting on observations by the Ragnar Locker ransomware group recently. In those observations, the Ragnar Locker group argued that the real "bad guys" in any ransomware incident were companies that offered recovery service and negotiators.
Cluley wrote: "There’s only one reason why the Ragnar Locker group would be telling its victims not to bring in ransomware recovery firms and the police – it’s worried that it’s hurting business."
The Grief gang poured scorn on companies that offered recovery services, dismissing them as part of a business model where the recovery company earns its money "just because it exists".
The Grief gang are threatening to immediately destroy data should their victims call in negotiators. pic.twitter.com/31Vsup3ioB— Brett Callow (@BrettCallow) September 14, 2021
And it added: "We wanna play a game. If we see professional negotiator from Recovery Company™ - we will just destroy the data."
The Grief statement claimed this would change nothing as far as the payment to the recovery company was concerned.
"What will this Recovery Companies™ earn when no ransom amount is set and data simply destroyed with zero chance of recovery? We think - millions of dollars. Clients will bring money for nothing. As usual," it concluded.
Contacted for comment, ransomware threat researcher Brett Callow said: "Incident response firms, negotiators and law enforcement can help victims avoid paying needlessly - because for example, the ransomware in question has buggy encryption that can be broken - so it's not at all surprising the gangs don't want them called in.
"They can help in multiple other ways too, and help guide victims through complex and messy situations in a way that minimises their costs and speeds up their recovery time. Bottom line: you should call in professional help and listen to their advice, not the advice of the extortionists."
Callow, who works for the New Zealand-headquartered security outfit Emsisoft, added: "For Grief, it's especially important that victims don't involve incident responders. Grief is one of Evil Corp's brands and Evil Corp is subject to OFAC sanctions, meaning US entities are generally prohibited from transacting with them, and responders will counsel victims accordingly."
OFAC is the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the US Treasury Department.