Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) is a way for cybercriminals to make money from ransomware while minimizing their own efforts.
It works by selling off-the-shelf malware to willing customers without them coding it themselves.
A RaaS provider will typically provide its clients with an easy-to-use interface inside which the customer can customize their own malware with a few clicks. A RaaS customer can be anyone willing to pay for the service, and they only need to have some basic computer knowledge.
Customers can also modify the ransomware’s behavior, such as how much money they want it to demand, and whether they want it to behave like a worm. Since all of this is done without any coding or technical expertise, RaaS customers can remain anonymous and their location hidden from third parties.
The only thing providers need for someone to purchase their malware is a computer with an Internet connection and some cash in his account.
How RaaS attacks work
- A criminal buys a copy of the RaaS software from an online black market. The software is purchased as a service, which means that it can be used multiple times to attack many computers. This way, the criminal pays for the malware once and then uses it again and again without having to pay again.
- Next, the attacker configures the software by choosing his desired language and setting up options such as how much money he wants to demand from victims.
- Finally, after all this is done, he receives a unique cryptographic key associated with his copy of the software that will be used to encrypt files on victims’ computers. The criminal can now launch attacks on targets knowing that only these specific victims will have their files with a specific extension encrypted.
Criminals can also use numerous RaaS providers to increase their revenue and launch mass attacks that would be difficult for a single individual to do on their own due to the amount of effort required.
Why is Ransomware as a Service so dangerous?
Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) has become very popular among cybercriminals in just a few years since its first instance, Cryptolocker, was discovered in 2013. According to Kaspersky, 3 out of 4 new ransomware families are now being distributed through RaaS channels.
There has been an increasing number of cases where computer systems have been attacked by large numbers of victims all at once, which is highly alarming behavior that indicates the involvement of professional cybercriminals. RaaS makes it very easy for anyone to become involved in ransomware attacks, and that means we may see more dangerous attacks in 2021 than before.
How to prevent ransomware as a service (RaaS) attacks
Ransomware attacks rely on users falling victim to social engineering tactics and opening infected email attachments or clicking malicious ads on websites, you can significantly reduce your risk by following some basic rules:
- Don’t open suspicious emails or attachments from unknown senders
- Keep all software up-to-date
- Don’t visit questionable websites or click dubious links
- Use reputable web protection tools to stop online threats in real-time
Ransomware as a service threats
Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) attacks are one of the hottest trends in the cybercrime ecosystem currently, and they will most likely increase in popularity as time goes by. Cybercriminals are also constantly developing new ways to use RaaS platforms so that their ransomware becomes more lucrative.
The most dangerous threat that we see now is the attack of IoT devices with RaaS software. By compromising shared servers and using them as a botnet, attackers can harness millions of compromised machines at once with just one click, and launch devastating attacks on a target country or even on an entire continent.
Examples of RaaS
Locky is a type of malware that was released in 2016. Locky comes into contact with people through emails and fake invoices which include an attached Microsoft Word document containing malicious macros. When the user opens this document, it appears to be full of gibberish including the phrase “Enable macro if data encoding is incorrect,” a social engineering technique used by hackers to trick unsuspecting users into downloading something they don’t want on their computer. If the victim allows these macros to run then save and execute binary file will download the actual encryption Trojan for all files matching certain extensions. This is the point at which a victim’s files become worthless to them.
The Jokeroo RaaS is newfound ransomware that has been spreading like wildfire through underground hacking forums and via Twitter. The story was first reported by malware researcher Damian who found out about it on Exploit.in, an online forum where hackers meet to share their knowledge in order to help each other with new hacks or attacks they are working on. The ransomware has been using the same email spamming techniques as Locky, but is more sophisticated in its approach to tricking users.
LockBit ransomware is malicious software designed to block user access to computer systems in exchange for a ransom payment. It will automatically vet for valuable targets and spread the infection, encrypting all accessible devices on a network. This self-piloted cyberattack has made its mark by threatening organizations globally.
RaaS Revenue model
Ransomware as a Service is the newest and most dangerous revenue model in cybercrime. The possibility to hold an individual or organization’s data hostage for an increased profit means that ransomware threats will continue to grow in size, strength, and duration.
Cybercriminals rely on RaaS because it saves their time and money when it comes to implementing an attack. That also helps them avoid detection by law enforcement agencies who have been after ransomware attacks since they started spreading so quickly throughout the world. With RaaS, professional hackers can just buy everything they need from vendors offering plug-and-play hacking solutions at affordable prices instead of spending hours or days writing custom malware code that could be detected by antivirus programs.
Frequently asked questions about ransomware as a service
How can you protect your business from RaaS?
Since RaaS is about renting ready-made malware for the most convenient price possible, your business should focus on cybersecurity solutions that can protect it in real-time.
The best way to do this is by having an updated and tested antivirus solution that will detect ransomware attacks before they begin. Next, scan all incoming emails with an advanced mail gateway system, so you can protect yourself from phishing attempts to deliver malware as well. Finally, place web filters between employees and the Internet so that any compromised sites cannot be accessed and used for spreading malicious software.
Why would people use RaaS to commit cybercrime, and what are the implications for victims of these crimes?
Cybercrime involving RaaS relies on a business model that offers criminals a decentralized, automated method for spreading ransomware.
This means that attacks are more frequent and have become increasingly sophisticated resulting in criminals making more money than ever before. Ransomware targets organizations of all sizes, with recent media reports claiming that even hospitals and police stations have fallen victim to such attacks. Because the ransom is typically higher when victims are institutions, it implies cybercriminals may be moving towards personalized attacks against valuable targets as opposed to random users who may not pay up.
What types of businesses / industries need to be aware of this threat?
Any organization can fall victim to this type of attack whether or not they store sensitive corporate data online or their stores are physical storefronts. Ransomware may have the potential to lock down an entire database, system, or server, but is also effective at targeting individual systems and files. With RaaS, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Fortune 500 business with a multibillion-dollar revenue stream or just an individual using your home computer for personal tasks – everyone can be targeted.
What mitigation strategies are available to help prevent victims from paying ransoms?
No one wants to pay any amount of money to cybercriminals as this will only encourage them to continue their criminal activities. In addition, there’s no guarantee that paying the ransom will result in getting access back into your own data since there’s no way of knowing whether criminals really have your data or files.
In the event that an attack is detected, there can be serious implications for victims who decide to pay. One of the main reasons why cybercriminals are using RaaS is because it’s so difficult to track them in this decentralized model. This means their money-laundering operations will go completely undetected if they continue receiving payments from several different victims.
What other repercussions do businesses face by paying ransoms?
Paying a ransom could make you a target for further attacks since criminals might assume that you have deep pockets and would be easy to extort again in the future. In addition, paying ransoms doesn’t guarantee access back into your systems as those behind these types of attacks have no real incentive to release data once they get paid – and no fear of getting caught or punished.
Since RaaS is a pay-as-you-go business model, it can generate more profits for those behind this type of crime than other models that involve larger upfront costs. There are several factors to consider when making decisions about paying ransoms including the overall cost of the attack itself versus what you might lose in potential losses from not being able to access your systems in real-time.
How do RaaS operations get started?
Criminals can subscribe to a RaaS service that involves all the steps needed to launch a ransomware attack, including delivery mechanisms and payment methods. Cybercriminals have their pick of the litter in choosing from different services depending on how they want to target victims. Some criminals may prefer to use websites for malware distribution because this is most likely what those behind these types of attacks know best – whereas others will prefer more sophisticated methods like email since it’s already been proven as effective at compromising organizations through phishing and spear-phishing campaigns.
How should businesses that fall victim report these incidents?
In order for law enforcement agencies to take action against cybercriminals who are using RaaS services, there needs to be solid intelligence with regards to the identities of those behind these operations. Identity is key since law enforcement agencies will need to have enough information so they can take action against individuals – rather than entire networks of command-and-control servers and other infrastructure involved with delivering attacks.
What are some of the most effective ways businesses can protect themselves from Ransomware as a Service?
The best way to avoid falling victim to RaaS is by being proactive, which includes using advanced threat detection tools that alert security teams about suspicious activity in real-time. Security analysts should also be trained on recognizing activities that might seem innocent but could lead to a compromise in order to prevent future incidents from happening. Another important consideration for businesses involves training users on cyber threats including how they should act upon receiving an alert (even though it might seem like a false alarm) and how to take other proactive steps such as making copies of data regularly in order to mitigate the effects of future attacks.
What kind of revenue model is associated with RaaS?
Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) is an up-and-coming model that has motivated criminals to launch new attacks using ransomware because they can set their own pricing and get paid for every single attack. This business model has been in operation since 2013, but it’s only now beginning to gain significant traction among cybercriminals since the financial gains are so high with minimal costs. Companies who fall victim will likely pay several times more than what it would cost for those behind these types of operations to develop malware from scratch.
Unlike other models that involve higher development costs, RaaS requires a payment structure based on how many victims are attacked instead of capital expenditures or operating expenses on infrastructures such as servers and command-and-control infrastructure.
How do businesses normally get infected with Ransomware As A Service?
One of the most common ways that cybercriminals use to deliver malware is through websites that have been compromised and serve as distribution sites for hosting malicious payloads such as ransomware, spyware, adware, etc. Another method involves phishing emails that contain links leading to binaries hosted on services like Dropbox or Google Drive which may also contain ransomware.
There are other targeted methods involving social engineering, where victims are convinced into giving up their credentials in order for attackers to gain access to systems. This might involve using fake job postings or accounts designed to look like legitimate users within an organization – such as a CEO – who send out messages telling employees they help them fix an issue that was detected on their device.
How can governments help to prevent or minimize the impact of ransomware attacks on their citizens?
Governments should invest in cybersecurity at a national level to ensure businesses have the resources they need to prevent attacks from taking place. In addition, individual governments need to engage with other countries that are linked to cybercriminal activities so that proper actions can be taken against them. Building relationships with these countries will also pave the way for more effective international coordination and cooperation between law enforcement agencies when it comes to fighting back against RaaS activities by sharing intelligence about their identities and locations.
How does Ransomware As A Service impact individuals?
Individuals who become victims of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) could lose access to all of their personal files including images, videos, documents, bank statements, or even keys to their cars, homes, or offices. For organizations, this could mean a complete shutdown of business operations until they are able to restore critical systems and files from backups, which can be lengthy and costly if it’s not properly planned for in advance.