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What ransomware as a service (RaaS) means for security teams

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We are CybSafe. A cyber security & data analytics company.

14 March 2023

Are your people ready for ransomware’s latest moves?

You know as well as we do that ransomware isn’t anything new. We’ve even accused it of being a bit boring in the past. But the thing is, ransomware is a very real danger to organizations today.

You’d think after 40 years of causing misery it’d have the decency to peter out and sod off. But actually, the opposite seems to be happening. That’s why we’re doing everything to help you prevent it.

The ultimate people-centric guide to ransomware prevention

We’re living through a ransomware revolution

Ransomware is being industrialized, and it’s happening right now. 

And there’s something about the headline-topping ransomware variants like the WannaCry NHS attack in the UK, and the Colonial Pipeline attack in the US that reveal the direction of travel.

Naturally, making money is top of nearly every cybercriminal’s list. And extortion via ransomware is a very effective method.

But it takes, to quote Mr. Neeson, “A very particular set of skills.” Ransomware developers spend a lot of time building sophisticated malware, and then pivoting to a new mode of attack when vulnerabilities are patched.

Not just anybody can make ransomware. Ransomware can make you rich. And when you can make a hard-to-make thing that can make you rich, you can sell that thing to others for a tidy sum.

Enter ransomware as a service (RaaS). It’s a business model used by ransomware groups that allows people to buy into malware or attacks from RaaS operators (i.e., those who created the malware), in exchange for a cut of the ransom payment.

RaaS marks the commodification of ransomware. It’s plain to see in the evolution to a gig economy, even clearer in the fact that RaaS buy-in often comes with customer support.

The RaaS ransomware model lowers the barrier for entry, so it’s expanding the ransomware sectorin terms of ransomware actors, ransomware investment, and attack volume. But that’s not the worst of it.


What is Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)?

In short, it’s less complicated than it sounds. It’s essentially a subscription-based model that means you can use existing ransomware tools to execute ransomware attacks. Every successful ransom payment earns each affiliate commission. 

How the RaaS model works

Another way of putting this is that RaaS uses the SaaS business model, so the hackers no longer have to learn coding erudition. Lucky them. 

In fact, RaaS users don’t have to be experienced or skilled at all, so they can be total novices and still rake it in using sophisticated cyberattacks.

Examples of RaaS

Where to start. Famous (or infamous) examples include Locky, Goliath, Shark, Stampado, Encryptor, and Jokeroo. 

But they pop up all the time, 24-hours a day, every day of the year, in new, better, ingenious forms. 

Ransomware deadliest

What is ransomware as a service’s deadliest trend in 2023?

Ask anyone who’s tried to achieve a professional result with a DIY off-the-shelf kit, and they’ll appreciate the true value of hiring a skilled person to do a professional job from start to finish.

The same goes for ransomware. Off-the-shelf malicious software is available—but the discerning affiliate opts to buy into the actual human skills of a ransomware operator, or someone on their team.

Ransomware threat intelligence reports warn that ransomware affiliates are increasingly seeing the value in human-operated ransomware. And it’s a very dangerous trend as far as cybersecurity professionals are concerned.

That’s because it lends a ransomware attack more agility by using human intelligence at every step of the kill chain. That means actions carried out pre-ransom can be unique to each incident because they are guided by what the attackers identify as the attack progresses.

This agility gives the intruder a better foothold in the ransomware victim’s environment. They can hole up in an undetected location to test various attack tools. Even if the first few fail, they can reach for a new one. Meanwhile, your antivirus product blocks them, and creates a false sense of security, as well as a bit of a smokescreen. All seems well, until the ransom demand lands.

By the time an active attack is detected, self-respecting ransomware attackers will have used their skill and judgment to delete backups and exfiltrate sensitive data.

Of course, that’s not all you need to look out for in 2023. We’ve got a ton of more insight to share in our predictions report.

Ransomware defences

What’s missing from your defenses?

So, how can organizations survive this burgeoning revolution and avoid falling victim to a successful ransomware attack?

Sure, you’ve got your data protection policy, your security software on every device, your ransomware incident response plan, and you know which law enforcement group to report it to. Maybe you’ve even scrolled through some ransomware recovery services and ransomware negotiation services.

But what if you could squash that ransomware infection risk at the very start?

It comes down to people

The thing is, threat actors have amassed a plethora of tools, knowledge, and skills to make the right decisions when it counts the most. And they know about social engineering, and how it works.

To stand a chance, you need to equip your people to do the same. Clue: there’s more to it than a bad phishing email.

True, maybe the eradication of all chances of cyber attacks is a way off yet. But you can give people the support, knowledge and tools to respond and make decisions in a way that transforms your ransomware protection levels, and protects their own personal data too.

The key to this is giving human behavior its dues and fostering a human-centric cybersecurity approach alongside. That’s how to prevent ransomware attacks in 2023.

And we would know, because helping security professionals in the art of human risk management is, of course, what makes us happiest.

The ransomware war in 2023 is all about human decision-making, on both sides.

So, are your people ready?

Looking for a little more guidance on preventing ransomware? Look no further than our ransomware report. It’s free. And it’s good.

The ultimate people-centric guide to ransomware prevention

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