BianLian: New Ransomware variant on the rise

GoLang-based Ransomware targets multiple industries

Cyble Research Labs has observed that malware written in the programming language “Go” has recently been popular among Threat Actors (TAs). This is likely due to its cross-platform functionalities and the fact that it makes reverse engineering more difficult. We have seen many threats developed using the Go language, such as Ransomware, RAT, Stealer, etc.  

During our routine threat-hunting exercise, we came across a Twitter post about a ransomware variant written in Go named “BianLian,” which was first identified halfway through July 2022.

The ransomware has targeted many well-known organizations (9 victims so far) across several industry sectors such as Manufacturing, Education, Healthcare, BFSI, etc. In the figure below, we have prepared a breakdown of the industries targeted by the BianLian ransomware.

Figure 1 – Industries Targeted by the BianLian Ransomware

Technical Analysis

We have taken the below sample hash for the purposes of this analysis: (SHA256), eaf5e26c5e73f3db82cd07ea45e4d244ccb3ec3397ab5263a1a74add7bbcb6e2, which is a 64-bit GoLang binary executable.

The unique build ID of the GoLang ransomware is shown below.

Figure 2 – Go Build ID

Upon execution of the ransomware, it attempts to identify if the file is running in a WINE environment by checking the wine_get_version() function via the GetProcAddress() API.

Figure 3 – Anti-analysis Technique

Then, the ransomware creates multiple threads using the CreateThread() API function to perform faster file encryption, making reverse engineering the malware more difficult. The below figure shows the multiple threads created by the ransomware.

Figure 4 – Multiple Thread Creation

Next, the malware identifies the system drives (from A:\ to Z:\) using the GetDriveTypeW() API function and encrypts any files available in the connected drives. Then, the malware drops a ransom note in multiple folders with the file name “Look at this instruction.txt.”

The ransomware creates a ransom note with the content shown below.

Figure 5 – Malware Writing Ransom Notes

After dropping the ransom note, the malware searches files and directories for encryption by enumerating them using the FindFirstFileW() and FindNextFileW() API functions.

The ransomware excludes the below file extensions and file/folder names from encryption.

File extension.exe, .dll, .sys, .txt, .lnk and .html
File namesbootmgr, BOOTNXT, pagefile.sys, thumbs.db, ntuser.dat and swapfile.sys
Folder namesWindows, Windows.old

The ransomware usesGoLang Packages such as “crypto/cipher,” “crypto/aes” and “crypto/rsa”  for file encryption on the victim machine.

Figure 6 – Hardcoded Strings of “Crypto” GoLang Packages

For encryption, the malware divides the file content into 10 bytes chunks. First, it reads 10 bytes from the original file, then encrypts the bytes and writes the encrypted data into the target file. Dividing the data into small chunks is a method to evade detection by Anti-Virus products.

The figure below shows the code snippet of the encryption loop and the original and infected file content before and after encryption.

Figure 7 – Encryption routine and Original/Encrypted file content

In the next step, the malware renames the encrypted files with the “.bianlian” extension and replaces them with the original file using the MoveFileExW() API function, as shown below.

Figure 8 – MoveFileExW() API

Finally, the ransomware deletes itself using the following command line, leaving only the encrypted files and the ransom note on the victim’s machine.

  • cmd /c del C:\Users\<Admin>\Desktop\new_one.exe

The below figure shows the BianLian ransomware encrypted files and ransom note text file after the successful infection of a victim’s machine.

Figure 9 – Files encrypted by BianLian Ransomware

In the dropped ransom note, victims are given instructions on how they can contact the TAs to restore their encrypted files.

The TAs threaten their victims, stating that their important data, such as financial, client, business, technical, and personal files, has been downloaded and will be posted on their leak site if the ransom is not paid within ten days.

The ransom note also contains the ID of TOX Messenger for ransom negotiations and the Onion URL of the leak site page – shown in the figure below.

Figure 10 – Ransom note

The figure below shows the BianLian ransomware Onion leak home page and the affected company’s extortion objects.

Figure 11 – BianLian Leak site home page

The BianLian Leak site contains the list of all companies affected by the ransomware and the TA’s contact details for ransomware data recovery.

Figure 12 – BianLian Leak site affected companies list & TAs contact details


Ransomware is becoming an increasingly common and effective attack method that affects organizations and their productivity. BianLian is GoLang-based ransomware that continues to breach several industries and demand large ransom amounts. The TAs also use the double extortion method by stealing an affected organization’s files and leaking them online if the ransom is not paid on time.

TAs write their ransomware in GoLang for various reasons; the language enables a single codebase to be compiled into all major operating systems. The TAs behind BianLian are constantly making changes and adding new capabilities to avoid detection.  

Cyble Research Labs will continue to monitor BianLian and other similar Ransomware groups’ activities and analyze them to better understand their motivations.

Our Recommendations

We have listed some essential cybersecurity best practices that create the first line of control against attackers. We recommend that our readers follow the best practices given below:

Safety Measures Needed to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

  • Conduct regular backup practices and keep those backups offline or in a separate network.
  • Turn on the automatic software update feature on your computer, mobile, and other connected devices wherever possible and pragmatic.
  • Use a reputed anti-virus and Internet security software package on your connected devices, including PC, laptop, and mobile.
  • Refrain from opening untrusted links and email attachments without verifying their authenticity.

Users Should Take the Following Steps After the Ransomware Attack

  • Detach infected devices on the same network.
  • Disconnect external storage devices if connected.
  • Inspect system logs for suspicious events.

Impact of BianLian Ransomware

  • Loss of Valuable data.
  • Loss of the organization’s reputation and integrity.
  • Loss of the organization’s sensitive business information.
  • Disruption in organization operation.
  • Financial loss.

MITRE ATT&CK® Techniques

TacticTechnique IDTechnique Name
User Execution
Command and Scripting Interpreter
Defense EvasionT1497
Virtualization/Sandbox Evasion
Software Packing
System Information Discovery
File and Directory Discovery
Security Software Discovery
Peripheral Device Discovery
ImpactT1486Data Encrypted for Impact
Lateral MovementT1091Replication Through Removable Media

Indicator Of Compromise (IOCs)

Ransomware Executable
Ransomware Executable

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