The Evolution of Ransomware

Evolution and anatomy of ransomware attacks

Ransomware-related stories have become more common over the past few weeks and months. Ransomware poses a threat for businesses all over the world, from the Colonial Pipeline attack up to the JBS assault.

Ransomware is a term that refers to an attack that extorts financial resources from a target. Ransomware can be more complex than you may think. There are many types of ransomware. Let’s take a look at some ransomware types.

Commodity ransomware

Automated operation of commodity ransomware. While an attacker can create a unique phishing campaign to send the malware to one victim, commodity ransomware works entirely automatically. As long as the malware is connected to a network, it can complete its mission. This ransomware is usually delivered with a small ransom request. Hackers plan to infect large numbers of businesses and expect that only a small percentage will pay.

Each successful ransomware infection that was first discovered resulted in complete file encryption. Several versions inadvertently encrypted files on networks drives.

Hackers made this malware search network drives as it evolved. It searched for files that the system’s owner had access to and any that were not mounted. The attackers’ ideal target changed from an individual to an organization at this point.

This reasoning makes sense. The probability of a victim paying for encryption would rise if more files were encrypted, such as in a business setting.

This ransomware was then integrated with a virus. The malware was then self-replicating. WannaCry ransomware is the most famous example of this new generation of commodity ransomware.

Human-Operated Ransomware

This ransomware is more advanced than commodity ransomware and relies on precise mechanisms. Hackers want to make a bigger profit than other ransomware types.

The initial step in human-operated ransomware is usually a foothold within a company. There are many steps involved. There are many steps involved. Most hacker hives involved in such operations use a set of technological tools. However, hackers may need to develop new tools depending on the situation.

These attacks can take days or even weeks to launch. Hackers spend a lot of time organizing this effort. This process can be compared with preparing large parties for many guests. Although you may spend a lot of time preparing, the actual party lasts only an hour.

The hackers will engage their attack tools at the appointed hour and encrypt all data. This was the method used by SamSam to attack hospitals, municipalities, and other organizations in 2018.

Organizations can mitigate this threat by having backups and the ability to restore them. Hackers stole and encrypted this attack type before organizations started to back up their systems regularly. Due to hackers’ threats of releasing sensitive data, organizations felt pressured into paying.

Ransomware Companies

Human-operated ransomware presented organizations with two challenges: 1) how to ensure ransom payments result in data decryption, and 2) how to make sure that ransom payments do not finance terrorist activities or other abuses.

The concept of ransomware “brands”, eventually emerged. “If someone ransomware brand X was paid and they still lost their data,” you’d be less likely to pay that ransom.

Each ransomware gang had its PR strategies. They wanted to make sure that customers had positive experiences with payment.

Preventing Ransomware Attacks

With relative ease, organizations can block older versions of commodity ransomware. Anti-terrorist measures can be bypassed by new forms of commodity ransomware. Make sure that you have backups of all your systems.

Avoid the latest forms and commodity malware by ensuring that your organization considers micro-segmentation. Zero-trust, identity management, and other policy-driven risk reduction initiatives.

Human-operated ransomware attack countermeasures are very similar to commodity ransomware attack countermeasures. However, cyber security tools are also important for defending against such attacks. You should look for tools that offer high visibility and the ability to hunt for threats. They also can quickly identify malicious activity. Ransomware must be avoided by organizations. These tactics can be used to prevent supply chain attacks.