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Another Review of the RaaS Market

A big part of cybersecurity vigilance is constant awareness of threats. New or old, the digital landscape is rife with dangers and malicious actors. One of these dangers is RaaS, or “ransomware as a service.” It isn’t a new concept, expanding its market growth over the past several years.

That establishes the bigger problem: ransomware is no longer just malware delivered by threat actors. It’s an enterprise, a market where individuals or cyber gangs can purchase a variety of resources to start campaigns and compromise IT infrastructure.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of virus that infects systems and networks intending to encrypt valuable data. Once on a system, it’s near-impossible to remove. Threat actors use ransomware to demand payment from impacted victims, threatening to publish or destroy the encrypted data if their demands are not met.

It’s grown in prevalence over the years. But today, the distinction is even more nefarious: it no longer requires teams of expert hackers to launch. Thanks to RaaS, dangerous tools are in the hands of virtually anyone.

The RaaS market

The comparison of cybersecurity defense requirements vs the accessibility of RaaS kits cannot be ignored. We’ve talked about the challenges of entering the cybersecurity field along with the gaps in coverage for IT security. Compare that to ease-of-use for ransomware and malware services, and one clearly outpaces the other.

Furthermore, RaaS covers a wide range of options for hopeful threat actors. For example, some dark web markets possess baked-in target lists. These lists are acquired from compromised websites with leaked emails, sold into batches for RaaS services and threat actors. Thus, the “heavy lifting” is already done, expediting the ransomware attack process. Worse, the expected timeframe between a successfully launched attack and targeted encryption falls under 24 hours. Before, this process could take days to weeks, but with the availability of RaaS kits, potential targets have no room for error.

The problem also worsens when considering the financial viability of dark web markets. Due to their inherent success and viability, hackers are encouraged to continuously expand their operations, improving the viability of RaaS kits. Growth, adaption, and speed play a significant role in the malware sector. With strong monetary incentives, hackers will work overtime to deliver a dangerous product usable by virtually anyone with a basic understanding of tech.

RaaS markets are also incredibly competitive. Hackers do not operate on a basis of loyalty or ethics, only selecting the most viable forms of malware/ransomware. That means developers for ransomware or malware are consistently fighting for a market space, and the only guarantee of success is to ensure their code correctly performs.

This is in contrast to the rigorous demands of cybersecurity and IT, which require varying levels of training, education, and experience. One side can require years to properly enter the field of technology, while the other requires minimal tech knowledge and only needs a single purchase for incredibly dangerous malware operations.

Staying proactive and protecting your architecture against RaaS models

Treating RaaS as a legitimate threat and concern is the first step towards a proactive defense. IT teams and administrative staff need to understand the legitimacy of RaaS markets. As they expand, the time to compromise targeted accounts is shortened, and for the reasons discussed, ransomware developers are emboldened to constantly improve. They exist in a feedback environment, able to fine-tune malicious codes and approaches, which is bad news for potential victims.

The core question, then, is how to protect against RaaS-specific attacks and prepare for a modernizing “threat economy.” There’s no one easy answer because ransomware is exceptionally dangerous. While official federal stances are to not pay hackers and give in to demands, not all companies have that luxury.

Rigorous penetrating testing is also recommended to understand the strengths, capabilities, and weaknesses of your enterprise. Whether offered via third-party or in-house experts, it tests the readiness level of cybersecurity architecture. This is important because ransomware efforts often rely on phishing and social engineering to compromise targets. Staff needs to know what to look for and how to avoid falling for dangerous social-duping. Zero-Trust policies and pentesting are two ways to accomplish that.

However, even a company’s best efforts can fall short when facing the dangerous new world of RaaS markets. It’s important to seek help when possible.

Bytagig is an experienced MSP with ransomware and IT-based solutions. For more information, contact us today.

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