Why Cybercriminals Love Ransomware
Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years, with attackers using this type of malware to encrypt victims’ files and demand payment in exchange for the decryption key. Ransomware attacks can be highly profitable for the attackers, and the ease with which they can be carried out makes them an attractive option for cybercriminals. It is important to understand how easy it is for attackers to obtain, use, and profit from ransomware so you can readily protect yourself against it.
How Easy is it to Make Money With Ransomware?
So how easy is it for people to make money with ransomware? Unfortunately, the answer is that it can be quite easy. Ransomware is readily available for purchase on the dark web, with some versions even coming with technical support for the attackers. This means that even those with limited technical knowledge can carry out a ransomware attack. Methods hackers use include:
Ransomware Affiliate Programs: Some hackers have created ransomware affiliate programs that allow others to use their ransomware in exchange for a share of the profits. This allows them to earn a percentage of the ransom payments made by the victims, without having to carry out the attacks themselves. These programs provide a user-friendly interface for individuals with little technical knowledge to launch their own ransomware attacks.
Bribery of Insiders: In some cases, hackers may bribe insiders within an organization to gain access to their systems and deploy ransomware. This method is particularly dangerous as insiders may have access to critical systems and data, making it easier for hackers to launch a successful attack.
Use of the Dark Web: The dark web is an anonymous network that is often used by hackers to sell stolen data or ransomware kits. Ransomware kits can be purchased for a relatively low cost, allowing attackers to launch their own ransomware attacks with little effort.
Remotely: Another factor that makes ransomware attacks very easy and attractive to cybercriminals is that they can be carried out remotely. This means that the attackers can target victims anywhere in the world, without ever having to leave their own location.
How do Attackers Actually Make Money?
Ransomware is typically delivered via phishing emails or through vulnerabilities in software. Once the ransomware infects a computer or network, it begins to encrypt files and demand payment in exchange for the decryption key. This is the most common method used by hackers to profit from ransomware. The ransom payments demanded by hackers can be substantial, and even if the payment is made, there is no guarantee that the decryption key will be provided. Another way attackers can profit is by stealing sensitive data from the victim before encrypting their files. They will then threaten to release the stolen data unless the victim pays the ransom. This can be a particularly effective tactic for attackers, as the victim may be willing to pay a higher ransom to prevent their data from being exposed.
Hackers typically demand payment in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, which can be difficult to trace and are easy to launder. The amount of the ransom can vary widely, from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars or more, depending on the value of the encrypted files and the size of the victim organization. Once the attackers have received payment in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, they need to launder the money to avoid detection. This can involve a variety of methods, such as using cryptocurrency exchanges, mixing services, or cashing out through intermediaries. By laundering the money, the attackers can avoid having their identities or locations traced by law enforcement.
Protecting Against Ransomware Attacks
As you can see, Ransomware is easy to obtain, easy to use, and easy to profit from. That is why it is essential to take proactive steps to protect against ransomware attacks. Here are some tips to help protect against ransomware attacks:
Backup Data Regularly: Regularly backing up data is an essential step in protecting against ransomware attacks. If your files are encrypted by ransomware, having a recent backup can allow you to restore your files without paying the ransom.
Keep Software Updated: Keeping your software up to date with the latest security patches can help prevent ransomware attacks. Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems.
Use Antivirus Software: Antivirus software can help detect and prevent ransomware attacks. Make sure to keep your antivirus software up to date with the latest updates.
Educate Employees: Educating employees on the dangers of ransomware and how to spot phishing emails can help prevent successful attacks. Employees should be trained to avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.
What to do if a Ransomware Attack Does Occur
If a ransomware attack does occur, it is essential to take immediate action to limit the damage and prevent further spread. Here are some steps to take if you become a victim of a ransomware attack:
1.) Isolate the Infected System: Immediately isolate the infected system from your network to prevent the ransomware from spreading to other systems.
2.) Contact Law Enforcement: Report the attack to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
3.) Seek Professional Assistance: Contact a cybersecurity professional for assistance with removing the ransomware and restoring your data. If you need professional assistance, we would gladly be of assistance and we can provide guidance on how to prevent future attacks.
Do not pay the ransom! We highly recommend to not pay the ransom as there is no guarantee that the decryption key will be provided. Additionally, paying the ransom only encourages hackers to continue their illegal activities.
Back Up or Pay Up
Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common and profitable for cybercriminals. The ease with which these attacks can be carried out and the availability of ransomware on the dark web make it a popular option for those with little technical knowledge. To protect against ransomware attacks, it is essential to take proactive measures such as regularly backing up data, keeping software updated, using antivirus software, and educating employees. If a ransomware attack does occur, it is important to isolate the infected system, report the attack to law enforcement, and seek professional assistance. It is vital that you educate yourself on how these attackers profit off ransomware, so you can readily protect yourself against this ever-growing threat.