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SamSam Ransomware: How to Identify and Mitigate the Risk

As many news outlets have reported, Atlanta is recovering from an attack on its city computers that occurred on the morning of March 22. Initial reports stated and later confirmed that SamSam ransomware, also known as Samas and SamSamCrypt, was at play.

Ransomware details

SamSam ransomware was active in early 2016 and is now making a comeback. This ransomware has been identified in attacks that shut down systems at the Colorado Department of Transportation in February 2018 and Hancock Heath, a regional hospital in Indiana, in January 2018. SamSam ransomware exploits older, unpatched JBoss system and Java deserialization vulnerabilities. It's known to initiate via RDP brute force attacks.

The vulnerabilities exploited by SamSam include those identified in the following CVEs:

  • CVE-2010-0738
  • CVE-2012-0874
  • CVE-2010-1428

Identifying affected systems

Tenable detects these vulnerabilities via the following plugins:


What should you do?

There are patches available for the vulnerabilities exploited by the SamSam ransomware. We advise upgrading JBoss servers to the latest version. To protect against RDP brute forcing of credentials, we also recommend restricting access and instituting a strong password policy.

Tenable developed Nessus® plugins to detect these vulnerabilities for Tenable.io Vulnerability Management, SecurityCenter and Nessus Pro. Specifically, these plugins identify vulnerabilities that would allow a remote attacker to utilize the JBoss flaw to gain access to sensitive information. In addition, Tenable.io Container Security has detection for the vulnerabilities in Docker container images.

To determine if you’re currently vulnerable to any of the exploits listed above, log into Tenable.io, click the Advanced link located on the top right area of the top navigation bar. Within the Advanced Search pop-up, select “CVE” from the pick list, using default “is equal to”, and enter the listed CVE IDs, separated by a comma. Then, click Apply, as shown in the image below.


Identified vulnerabilities will be displayed on the Vulnerability Workbench. See below.


At this point, you may select a specific vulnerability to retrieve details, such as the Description, Solution and References, which will assist in mitigating the vulnerability.


To view information about which specific assets are vulnerable, click the Assets tab on the Vulnerability Workbench. Selecting an asset will also present you with a vulnerability view, which when selected will also take you to the detailed view shown above.


Most ransomware exploits well-known vulnerabilities that already have patches available.

Get more information

Many thanks to Rajiv Motwani, Steve Tilson, Anthony Bettini, Clint Merrill and the entire Tenable research team for their contributions.

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