Illustration of a computer with a lock and a ghost holding a key asking for money

The Rise of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)

Ransomware, which has been around since 1989, was once not much more than a nuisance to computer users all over the world. Now, however, the phenomenon of ransomware has evolved from an annoyance to a serious threat that can bring your business to its knees in less than an hour. Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) has become so pervasive and destructive that many businesses and organizations have little choice but to pay the ransom in order to regain access to their data and information systems. Here’s what you need to know about RaaS and how it impacts your business today.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that uses encryption to hold files hostage, denying access until a ransom is paid. The malware responsible for encrypting data is typically installed via an infected email attachment or by being dropped into computers through hacking exploits. Once installed, ransomware may also gain remote access to a computer’s webcam and microphone, which can be used to spy on victims and facilitate further ransoms.

This level of control gives malicious hackers greater ability to extort money from victims who might feel they have no other option but to pay up. As more cybercriminals see success with ransomware schemes, expect them to continue developing new iterations in order to maximize profit opportunities.

Why would someone use RaaS?

It’s one thing to develop ransomware, but it’s much harder to effectively deploy and distribute an attack. For example, if a cybercriminal is planning to infect multiple computers over several months, they’ll need to maintain control of a command-and-control server 24/7. Why not take advantage of existing infrastructure?

RaaS operators can use underground forums where criminals trade high-quality spyware like Stuxnet—which was probably created by intelligence agencies—for hundreds or thousands of dollars apiece. They could even rent access to malware coded by experts for monthly fees. If someone wants to get into cybercrime without taking out loans, then RaaS offers an enticing opportunity.

There are other reasons too:

  • Most buyers use crypto like Bitcoin
  • They intentionally use these methods to avoid law enforcement
  • Many users are almost completely anonymous

How do Cybercriminals access RaaS services?

One can access these services in several ways. The simplest way is by utilizing an internet browser and searching for RaaS to find numerous websites that provide services for selling or purchasing malware. Cybercriminals can also access these services through IRC channels or other online forums, though it may be more difficult than finding what they need via a simple Google search. These forums are often filled with members who are willing to help others become malware specialists.

Do Operators have to be tech savvy to use these services?

In recent years, ransomware programs have been made available to anyone who is willing to pay for them. Thanks to ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) programs, even people with little or no coding experience can create malicious viruses and disseminate them over a web platform. This makes it easy for inexperienced cybercriminals to launch sophisticated attacks in which a victim’s data is held hostage until he or she pays for its release.

The service has become so commonplace that there are now thousands of developers hawking their wares on dozens of platforms. The big question, though, is whether someone without technical expertise would be able to use these services successfully—and if so, how much do they cost? Many times users don’t even need advanced computer skills. All they need is money.

Key Takeaway

As Ransomware as a Service has evolved, the tools to launch sophisticated cyber attacks have become readily available to anyone willing to pay the right price. This means that serious threats are more common than ever before, and some of the most vulnerable targets are small-to-medium sized businesses that have valuable data and insufficient cybersecurity practices. Protecting your business’ data is more important than ever before and should not be neglected. Contact tekRESCUE to schedule a cybersecurity review and see how your business can improve its defenses against RaaS and other threats today.

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