Over the years, the diffusion of darknets has created new illegal business models. Along with classic illegal goods such as drugs and payment card data, other services appeared in the criminal underground, including hacking services and malware development. New platforms allow crooks without any technical skills to create their own ransomware and spread it.
Ransomware is malicious code that infects the victims’ machines and blocks or encrypts their files, requesting the payment of a ransom. When ransomware is installed on a victim machine, it searches for and targets sensitive files and data, including financial data, databases and personal files. Ransomware is developed to make the victim’ machine unusable. The user has only two options: pay the ransom without having the guarantee of getting back the original files or format the PC disconnecting it from the Internet.
The rise of the RaaS business model is giving wannabe criminals an effortless way to launch a cyber-extortion campaign without having technical expertise, and it is the cause of flooding the market with new ransomware strains.
Ransomware-as-a-Service is a profitable model for both malware sellers and their customers. Malware sellers, using this approach, can acquire new infection vectors and could potentially reach new victims that they are not able to reach through a conventional approach, such as email spamming or compromised website. RaaS customers can easily obtain ransomware via Ransomware-as-a-Service portals, just by configuring a few features and distributing the malware to unwitting victims.
Naturally, RaaS platforms cannot be found on the Clearnet, so they are hidden into the dark side of the Internet, the Dark Web.
Surfing the dark web through unconventional search engines, you can find several websites that offer RaaS. Each one provides different features for their ransomware allowing users to select the file extensions considered by the encrypting phase; the ransom demanded to the victim and other technical functionality that the malware will implement.
Furthermore, beyond the usage of Ransomware-as-a-Service platforms, the purchase of custom malicious software can be made through crime forums or websites where one can hire a hacker for the creation of one’s personal malware. Historically, this commerce has always existed, but it was specialized into cyber-attacks, such as espionage, hack of accounts and website defacement. Only when hackers understood it could be profitable, they started to provide this specific service.
Security experts at CSE CybSec ZLab malware Lab have conducted an interesting analysis of the principal Ransomware-as-a-Service platforms available on the dark web, including
Technical details of the above services are reported in the report titled:
“ZLAB MALWARE ANALYSIS REPORT: RANSOMWARE-AS-A-SERVICE PLATFORMS“
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(Security Affairs – Ransomware-as-a-Service, malware)