Ransomware has been one of the biggest cybersecurity threats over the last five years and has affected millions of people and organizations globally.
While some people think taking a few precautions will save them from this type of hacker attack, the reality is that threats are becoming more complex and challenging to avoid, so it takes an investment to stay educated on the topic.
One of the specifics you need to know about is a reasonably new ransomware development, which is the use of Ransomware-as-a-Service, or RaaS for short.
What Is RaaS
Ransomware-as-a-Service is a hacker tactic that adopts the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model (think Dropbox, Slack, or Salesforce tech tools that work on a subscription basis). Basically, instead of having to be excellent coders as they always had to be in the past, today’s hackers can utilize already-created attack tools, in this case, ransomware options, to execute hacks.
This means that cybercriminals don’t always have to be experienced or skilled, and they can simply use the tools available on the market to execute sophisticated cyber attacks and earn money on an ongoing basis. Each of these hackers is considered an affiliate, earning a percentage of the successful ransom payments that come in via the tech they use. These dividends are high and can even go up to 80 percent, which, as you’d imagine, is very motivating.
How It Works
RaaS works by developers creating specific code to power all the parts of ransomware operations. These operators develop and maintain these tools and write instructions on launching an attack using the Raas. They then enter into an arrangement with an affiliate, the person choosing to use and spread the ransomware.
Since ransomware-as-a-service is so easy to use and requires minimal technical skills, pretty much anyone with access to the dark web can log into a relevant portal and select the type of malware they wish to utilize. After this, they usually pay for the program’s use with Bitcoin or some other form of cryptocurrency, and the developer provides the ransomware code and decryptor, plus the usage instructions.
Next, the affiliate initiates attacks on unsuspecting people or organizations with a click or two of a button. Once victims receive ransom money, the profits of the hack usually get split between the affiliate and the developer. The revenue model varies from arrangement to arrangement, so the division percentages can vary considerably.
Typical Methods Used By RaaS Hackers
Ransomware-as-a-service is likely to keep changing and developing over time, but most code developers use one or more of four main revenue models now. For example, there’s a standard affiliate program, where a small percentage of profits goes to the operator, or a pure profit-sharing arrangement with pre-determined percentages for developers and users to keep of all the paid ransoms.
In addition, some people offer one-time license fees. In these situations, affiliates pay a charge once and then have access to the ransomware software in perpetuity. The other popular model is a monthly subscription. With this setup, users pay a flat monthly fee to access malware programs and earn a small percentage of each successful ransom.
Tips For Staying Safer From RaaS
As you can imagine, RaaS is a growing field due to its simplicity for hackers with limited skills and money-making potential for more experienced, savvy cybercriminals. As such, it’s vital to take steps to protect yourself and your business from this type of attack.
To prevent becoming a victim, back up your data regularly. Private, confidential, and often sensitive information is the main target of a RaaS attack, but if you have all your essential details backed up elsewhere, the cybercriminals will have much less leverage over you. Don’t rely solely on cloud storage; instead, back up data to external hard drives so you have a preventative measure in place.
You can also think like a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) by learning to use quality security software and firewalls. Keep all software updated, too. Head to Trend Micro for tips but remember to buy software from well-regarded and trusted companies that have been creating tools to help protect systems and information for many years.
Many computers already have firewalls installed on them, so you may just need to play around with your device to switch them on. As for software updates, these are essential because legitimate developers release new versions of their programs whenever they plug any security gaps or make other updates. You risk leaving known vulnerabilities open to RaaS technologies if you run older editions.
Other ways to stay safer from ransomware-as-a-service include being careful regarding which third-party apps you use, training employees or family members on smart ways to operate online and the types of tricks developers make, and ensuring you use password-protected WiFi.
Follow these tips to lower the risk of facing a RaaS attack and having to pay a ransom. Begin formulating a defense plan ASAP, so you don’t miss any steps needed to keep hackers and their malware at bay.