What is Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)?
Yes, that is right. Some ransomware developers sell malware as a service. As always, when the digital space advances, so do cybercrime. Ransomware attacks are now in the headlines for causing disruptions in various industries and across nations. The financial losses caused by ransom attacks have almost doubled throughout 2021, and experts warn it will get worse. Even more concerning is that though the ransom was paid, only one in ten affected companies were able to get their data back. So, what is ransomware-as-a-service? Is it possible to protect your company from it? Read on.
Ransomware- What Is It?
Ransomware is a form of malware that can encrypt the data of a targeted computer or server. The encryption allows the attacker to make the data inaccessible by the owners or organisation. They may also export sensitive data to keep as “hostage”. The attacker will then demand a ransom, typically in the form of cryptocurrency. Till the ransom is paid, the organisation’s data will remain scrambled. Once the affected parties pay the amount they were asked to, the attacker will give them the decryption key, which of course, you can never be sure of.
How does ransomware work?
Like most cyberattacks, ransomware also starts with social engineering techniques. You may receive a phishing email that contains a malicious file or link to download it. Once you download the file or visit the website, the malware will take control of your systems. Ransomware can easily spread from one device to all the connected devices. So, if one employee at an organisation accidentally downloads it, your databases and servers can get affected. Then all the devices connected to these servers and databases can also be controlled by the attacker.
What is RaaS?
Ransomware as a Service, abbreviated as RaaS, is a business model employed by ransomware developers. The developers create the malware and sell it as a service on the dark web, much like how other Software as a Service (SaaS) products are sold. By signing up for this service, even those who don’t have technical knowledge can launch ransomware attacks. RaaS usually includes 24/7 support from the developers, forums, user reviews and even bundled offers and packages.
RaaS usually is available in four forms:
- Monthly subscription
- A lifetime license fee
- Affiliate programs
Those who wish to use this service only have to log into the portal of the RaaS provider, create an account, pay the cost in bitcoin, give the information on the type of malware they need and then submit. The most notorious RaaS kits are :
What makes RaaS so dangerous?
Traditionally ransomware players would enter a victim’s network, encrypt the data and lock the system. The ransom would be demanded to decrypt the data. But soon, business owners started to recognise the importance of cybersecurity and adopted better strategies. Ransomware attack? Clean the system and reset everything with the latest data backup. With RaaS, cybercriminals not only encrypt data, they can steal it and hold it as a hostage. The threat is now more of leaking the data on the web than just a demand for ransom for the decryption key.
RaaS also has a highly competitive market, which means more advanced ransomware variants appear regularly on the dark web. So, what should you do to protect your organisation from a RaaS attack?
How can you protect your organisation from RaaS?
Ransomware attacks often end in attackers leaking sensitive data to the public or selling it on the dark web. They inflict direct and collateral damage on their targets. The affected organisations face huge financial losses and loss of credibility. What makes it worse is that new ransomware or variants of existing ones keep cropping up regularly. So how can you protect your business from ransomware attacks? Make the cost of unleashing ransomware on your network much higher than the benefit it would produce for the hacker. Here are some security measures you can take to reduce the chances of falling prey to RaaS.
1. Install security updates regularly
This is the primary defence against any cyberattack – ensure your systems are always updated to their latest versions. Installing security updates reduces the number of vulnerabilities in your systems and thus help in preventing ransomware attacks.
2. Divide your network into segments
Segmenting your networks mitigates the impact of an attack against your data. The best network segmentation practices are :
- Isolating databases and applications that contain sensitive data
- Limiting access to databases
- Monitoring your IT architecture 24/7
3. Cybersecurity awareness training
Knowing about the pitfalls in cyberspace will be highly beneficial in avoiding the harsh outcomes of a ransomware attack. So, arm your employees with the best training and tools to be cyber aware. Conduct annual training sessions and regular tests.
4. Back up your data and systems
A solid data backup plan and recovery strategy can significantly reduce the impact of a ransomware attack. The 3-2-1 data backup and recovery practice is the most beneficial method –
- Create three copies of data.
- Save backups to two different media.
- Have at least one copy of the backup offsite.
RaaS is the illegitimate alternate universe to the legitimate SaaS. The best way to mitigate risks is by creating, implementing and monitoring a solid cybersecurity strategy, that makes it difficult and costly for criminals to break into your systems. The Computing Australia Group team has the experience and expertise to make sure your organisation is safe and sound. Need assistance with your organisation’s cybersecurity? Contact us today!
Malware: Software specifically designed to damage computers, networks, and servers or steal data.
Cryptocurrency: It is a digital currency that can only be traded online.