You’ve already heard of Ransomware — software that enables a hacker to steal or lock your individual data, until you pay a ransom to get it back — but there’s an even scarier version of this crime impacting businesses worldwide.
If Ransomware wasn’t terrifying enough already, it’s now being packaged and sold as a service. Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) gives even the most amateur cybercriminals access to the ability to ransom your data. All they have to do is pay for their own pre-made Ransomware kit.
The scariest part? There’s no way to know you’re infected until it’s too late. Perpetrators generally probe networks and computer systems through the distribution of phishing email schemes; seemingly harmless email threads from unknown senders are often the way in for these digital criminals. Unbeknownst to the victims, who have clicked on a link within an email thread, malware begins targeting their computer systems within seconds.
How Do Cybercriminals Sell Ransomware-as-a-Service?
Ransomware is a malicious type of software designed to lock up your computer systems or networks, blocking you from your own data with the intent to extort money from you. Ransomware has come a long way from simply targeting individual account holders — modern strains of Ransomware infect corporations and global economic centers on an astronomical scale. Experts have even started coaching businesses to better combat cybercriminal attacks on cloud-based systems.
Starting in 2015, cybercriminals began renting out strands of their malicious code to the highest bidder; this became known as RaaS, in line with the popular Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry model. Cybercriminals lacking the wherewithal or intelligence to create their own malicious code can now hire someone else to do the legwork for them, with the click of a button. Automated Ransomware services will target the purchaser’s desired business, or individual, and extort as much money as the purchaser desires — offering the original RaaS distributor a commission.
What is the Impact of a Cyberattack by Ransomware-as-a-Service?
Loss of Data
The biggest and most immediate danger of a Ransomware attack is loss of your data. The infection locks you out of your own database until a ransom is paid; if you refuse to pay, your hard drive will be completely erased — and you’ll lose all of that data. For a business that relies on its database to store files on clients, vendors, and products, this can be devastating. In some cases, it’s impossible for a business to recover from such a loss.
In salvaging your data, the obvious impact of a Ransomware attack — what the attacker is really after — is the financial cost to regain access to your system. The average dollar amount requested by these cybercriminals has nearly doubled since 2014, to roughly $679. For one major metropolitan California-based hospital, a lack of adequate cybersecurity training for their staff resulted in footing a $17,000 ransom demand, in order to regain access to patients’ crucial medical files.
When an organization is the victim of a Ransomware attack, it’s often forced to close its doors until a solution is found. It is impossible to run most modern businesses without access to digital information and client files. Loss of production time quickly trickles through all aspects of your business model — straight to your bottom line. Not only will your corporation lose money due to the ransom demands, it will also lose potential revenue during the downtime.
In some cases, organizational downtime can even be life-threatening. When vicious Ransomware called WannaCry hit the UK’s National Health Service in May, taking down its network, a number of UK hospitals had to postpone medical procedures for patients in need. The impact can be deeper than just financial; think about intangible assets to your business that may be put at risk by such an attack (workplace culture, public reputation, essential services you provide to the community). While your organization may not be a hospital, dealing with matters of human lives, the loss of precious time can drag your business down in more ways than one.
Job Loss or Demotion
If Ransomware has infected your work device, your integrity as an employee may be called into question — possibly calling your employment into question, as well. Oftentimes, this type of cyberattack means the user was not aware of the safety risks of opening strange emails, or visiting unsafe websites. This can have major implications for your job security; even if management doesn’t see the attack as entirely your fault, your connection to the incident can raise serious concern about your trustworthiness.
Protect Your Company Data from Being Held Hostage
There is no known way to unlock an account that is already in the grip of Ransomware; making it all the more important to take action before disaster has a chance to strike. Take all possible precautions to make it harder to crack into your company’s network in the first place.
Just as you wouldn’t leave your office building at night without a lock on the door (and maybe a digital security system for good measure), modern companies must invest in cybersecurity methods to keep their data safe. Work with IT professionals (whether an internal team, or outsourced experts) to conduct penetration testing for your apps and networks, set up proper encryption for all of your platforms (including cloud-based platforms), and continuously monitor your current security to identify any gaps.
While you’re protecting all of your digital systems, don’t forget about the human factor: your employees. Adequate cyber security training is another essential deterrent for such vicious attacks; all employees in an organization need to know how to identify and avoid potentially malicious scams, in order to keep the entire business protected. With strong cybersecurity measures in place, you can make it monumentally more difficult for any troublemakers to successfully infect your network with their purchased RaaS. The Ransomware for sale in today’s market may be good, but your security can be