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Excerpts from The Ransomware Economy: Projections

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Rick McElroy
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November 9, 2017 / Rick McElroy Sean Blanton

Carbon Black recently published an investigative report on the Dark Web marketplace for ransomware. This is the final excerpt from that report, which you can find here. For more information about the rise of ransomware, and what you can do about it, check out the Ransomware Epidemic: Stop Bad Rabbit In Its Tracks webcast hosted by Rick McElroy, Security Strategist at Carbon Black.

Projections

As improvements in prevention models continue to hit the market, we expect threats to converge resulting in the underground market increasing the profit-sharing model and a consolidation and centralization of threats. This consolidation means ransomware strains may become fewer but more effective.

Some additional projections regarding ransomware as we move toward 2018:

1 – Based on the direction ransomware is trending, we believe ransomware will increasingly target Linux systems in an effort to further extort more money per infection. For example, attackers will increasingly look to conduct SQL injections to infect servers and charge a higher ransom price. We have already observed attacks hitting MongoDB earlier this year which provide excellent foreshadowing.

2 – Ransomware will become more targeted by looking for certain file types and targeting specific companies such as legal, healthcare, and tax preparers rather than “spray-and-pray” attacks we largely see now. There is already ransomware that targets databases, preying on businesses, and small tweaks to their code can target critical, proprietary files such as AutoCAD designs. A focused targeting of extensions can allow many ransomware samples to hide under the radar of many defenders.

3 – While most ransomware samples we analyzed in recent research simply encrypt files in place and transmit encryption keys for the purpose of decryption, there will be ransomware samples that will take the extra step of exfiltrating data prior to encryption. Not only would such an evolution put stress on companies to restore their data but also incorporate the loss of proprietary data that could be sold on the black market.

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For more information about the rise of ransomware, and what you can do about it, check out the Ransomware Epidemic: Stop Bad Rabbit In Its Tracks webcast hosted by Rick McElroy, Security Strategist at Carbon Black.

Watch Now

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4 – Ransomware will increasingly be used as a smokescreen. For example, in the past, Zeus botnet operators hit victims with DDoS attacks after an infection to take investigators off the trail. A similar trend is emerging with ransomware attacks where the encryption of files could take place after more damning actions are taken by adversaries. Using already existing techniques of deleting Volume Shadow Copies, which deletes potential file backups, and the deletion of Windows event logs, adversaries can thwart many incident response efforts by forcing responders to focus on decrypting files instead of investigating data and credentials exfiltrated.

5 – Ransomware will emerge as a secondary method when initial forms of attack fail. Adversaries that rely upon more crafted and targeted attacks may use ransomware as an attack of last resort. Failing to entrench in an environment with a Remote Access Tool (RAT) or exfiltrate data, adversaries can push a ransomware across the environment to ensure at least a minimum return for their effort invested.

6 – Ransomware will be used more commonly as a false flag, as seen with NotPetya. Solely from dynamic analysis it was perceived to be Petya, when more detailed analysis showed it wasn’t. Such quick analysis also insinuated it to be obvious ransomware, but a greater depth of disassembly showed that data was not held at ransom; it was simply destroyed.

7 – Ransomware will increasingly leverage social media to spread either intentionally or unintentionally. Similar to malware such as Koobface, maliciously shared content on sites such as Facebook could lead victims to click enticing links. Intentionally shared ransomware, seen in prior concepts, such as Popcorn Time where victims could share to reduce or eliminate their ransom, could see larger-scale use.

8 – Ransomware will start to morph to gain persistence on systems to re-encrypt them for more money some period of time later.

______________________________________________

 

For more information about the rise of ransomware, and what you can do about it, check out the Ransomware Epidemic: Stop Bad Rabbit In Its Tracks webcast hosted by Rick McElroy, Security Strategist at Carbon Black.

Watch Now

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TAGS: Carbon Black / ransomware / Threat Analysis Unit / threat research

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