What is Ransomware
as a Service (RaaS)?

Recent spikes in the use of the Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) model are easy to explain. 

Ransomware attacks increased by 40% globally in Q3 2020, to 199.7 million cases. Attacks in the United States alone have increased by 139% year over year, with 145.2 million cases reported in Q3 2020

Since Q3 2019, the average ransom demand has increased by 33% to $111,605. RaaS solutions are engineered explicitly for victim proliferation because of their low technical barrier to entry and enormous affiliate earning potential.

What is Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)?

Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) is a subscription-based model that allows affiliates to execute ransomware attacks using pre-developed ransomware tools. In simpler words, tweaking the Software as a Service (SaaS) business model gives rise to Ransomware as a service (RaaS). All successful hackers should know coding before, which is no longer a prerequisite thanks to the RaaS model.

Users of RaaS, like all SaaS solutions, do not need to be skilled or even experienced to use the tool effectively. As a result, RaaS solutions enable even the most inexperienced hackers to carry out highly sophisticated cyberattacks. For example, malicious actors who lack the skills or time to develop their ransomware variants can use RaaS kits to get up and running quickly and cheaply.

They’re easy to come by on the dark web, where RaaS providers sell Ransomware as a Service the same way legitimate products are. A traditional RaaS kit includes 24/7 support, bundled offers, user reviews, forums, and other features similar to legitimate SaaS providers.

RaaS kits range in price from $40 per month to several thousand dollars – a small change compared to the average ransom demand of $234,000 in Q3 2020 (and trending upward). To become wealthy, a threat actor does not need every attack to be successful.

How Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) Works?

In this malicious franchise-style deployment model, cybercriminals write ransomware code. Once done, they sell/rent it to other cybercriminals. They provide technical know-how and step-by-step instructions on how to use the service to launch a ransomware attack, which includes a platform that can show the attack status in real-time.

The ransom money is split between the service provider, coder, and attacker once the attack is successful. Traditional rules do not constraints RaaS as it isn’t a precise and transparent web service.

Each RaaS provider has its business model. However, with a few exceptions, all Ransomware-as-a-Service operators can be divided into four major categories based on the observations made thus far.

Subscription-Based

Some RaaS operators can provide access to various types of ransomware-centric services in exchange for a flat fee paid in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, similar to clear-web, subscription-based services (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Dropbox, Salesforce, and so on). Customers can be billed at the end of each month or annually.

Affiliate-Based

In addition to the flat fee, RaaS operators who run affiliate programs may demand a profit percentage. The ‘beneficiary’ will get more help, possibly gain access to paywall features or content, case-specific tools, custom code, and so on.

Lifetime Licensing

This model considers the psychology of the purchase-once-use-forever business model. Some RaaS operators prefer to sell fully licensed ransomware kits or malicious tools rather than passive income from subscribers or affiliates. Off-the-shelf malicious tools are, of course, much more expensive than a subscription or joining an affiliate program.

Partnership

The customer becomes a co-conspirator, splitting the profits with the RaaS operator. The profit cuts are primarily determined by how each actor contributes to the ‘project.’

Preventing Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) Attacks

The sophistication and severity of these highly profitable attacks will almost certainly continue to rise. Businesses must implement proactive security measures that reduce the risk of a ransomware attack for proactive protection. There are a few best practices to follow to reduce the risk of RaaS attacks:

Backup Data and Systems

The first and most important step is setting up a data backup and recovery plan. Ransomware encrypts data and prevents users from accessing it. Organizations can mitigate the impact of an attacker encrypting data if ups are available for a quick recovery operation.

Update The Security Software Regularly

Ransomware frequently takes advantage of known flaws in software and operating systems. To help prevent ransomware attacks, keep your software up to date with every patch and update release. Additionally, Cybercriminals seek the quickest and most convenient method of gaining access to systems and networks. Installing regular security patch updates is critical to mitigating risk as they increase their use of CVEs to infiltrate organizations. Making the cost of gaining access outweigh the benefit of the ransom is the key to reducing the likelihood of a successful ransomware attack.

Culture Of Cyber Awareness

Protection against phishing is the most important preventative measure. Email phishing is a common ransomware attack vector. Organizations can prevent RaaS attacks by using anti-phishing email security. Fundamentally, businesses must enable their employees by cultivating a security culture. This situation implies that they must provide appropriate cyber awareness training and tools. The following are some examples of best practices:

  • Provide cyber awareness training once a year
  • Tests for phishing, smishing, and similar social engineering attacks
  • Tools for password management including multifactor authentication
  • Identify and report new phishing attack risks regularly

Filtering Of DNS Records

Ransomware frequently uses a command and control (C2) server to communicate with a RaaS operator’s platform. You can use a DNS query to interact from an infected system to the C2 server. Organizations can use a DNS filtering security service to detect when Ransomware attempts to communicate with the RaaS C2 and block the communication. This mechanism can plan an infection-prevention role.

Endpoint Security With XDR

Endpoint security and threat hunting technologies, such as XDR, are another critical layer of ransomware defense, providing enhanced detection and response capabilities, which can help to reduce the risk of Ransomware.

Final Words

The rise of Ransomware as a service (RaaS) is obvious: it’s cheap, powerful, easy to deploy, and requires little to no technical knowledge. However, while Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) is a brainchild and one of the most recent threats to prey on digital users, it is critical to take some preventative measures to combat this threat.

You can only mitigate the risks associated with RaaS by continuously monitoring systems and networks for flaws. When a company makes it difficult for cybercriminals to access data, the company’s return on investment suffers. Schedule a demo with us today to ensure a more secure environment, thus making it difficult for cybercriminals to gain initial access.

Sophisticated attacks demand a strong, prepared workforce. Let us help you.