Columbia, MD, June 22, 2022 -- The shift to the subscription economy has created a new norm in the as-a-service world. And it’s not just Netflix and Spotify that have adopted this business model. New research from Tenable®, the Cyber Exposure company, found that one of the main reasons ransomware has prospered is due to the advent of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) which has catapulted ransomware from a fledgling threat into a force to be reckoned with. The service model has significantly lowered the barrier of entry, allowing cybercriminals who lack the technical skills to commoditize ransomware.
In 2020 alone, ransomware groups reportedly earned $692 million from their collective attacks, a 380% increase over the previous six years combined ($144 million from 2013-2019). The success of RaaS has also attracted other players such as affiliates and initial access brokers (IABs) who play prominent roles within the ransomware ecosystem - oftentimes more than ransomware groups themselves.
The research found that ransomware’s current dominance is directly linked to the emergence of a technique known as double extortion. The tactic, pioneered by the Maze ransomware group, involves stealing sensitive data from victims and threatening to publish these files on leak websites, while also encrypting the data so that the victim cannot access it. Ransomware groups have recently added a variety of other extortion techniques to their repertoire, including launching DDoS attacks to contacting customers of their victims, making it even more challenging for defenders. These tactics are part of the ransomware gangs’ arsenal for placing additional pressure on victim organizations.
“With RaaS and double extortion, Pandora's box has been opened, and attackers are finding holes in our current defenses and profiting from them,” said Satnam Narang, senior staff research engineer. “Globally we see governments confirming that ransomware attacks are a growing concern — from The Australian Cybersecurity Centre, the UK’s Information Commissioners Office, The US' FBI Cyber Division, and The Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI) in Germany, to name a few. As long as the ransomware ecosystem continues to thrive, so too will the attacks against organizations and governments. It’s imperative that these entities prepare themselves in advance so they are in the best position possible to defend against and respond to ransomware attacks.”
“While ransomware groups get the most notoriety and attention for attacks, these groups come and go. In spite of the turnover, affiliates and IABs remain prominent fixtures in this space and more attention should be given to these two groups in the ecosystem at large.”
The Tenable Ransomware Ecosystem Report is available to download at: https://www.tenable.com/cyber-exposure/a-look-inside-the-ransomware-ecosystem
Tenable® is a Cyber Exposure company. Approximately 40,000 organizations around the globe rely on Tenable to understand and reduce cyber risk. As the creator of Nessus®, Tenable extended its expertise in vulnerabilities to deliver the world’s first platform to see and secure any digital asset on any computing platform. Tenable customers include approximately 60 percent of the Fortune 500, approximately 40 percent of the Global 2000, and large government agencies. Learn more at tenable.com.