How Plug-and-Play Ransomware Is Fueling the Growth of New Cyberattacks

We gotten used to technology making complicated things easier even for a novice. For example, you used to have to be an expert at a photo manipulation program like Photoshop to get the filtering effects that anyone can now get with the click of a button on the Instagram app.

Programs are now designed to do the things that humans had to do manually, making more complex actions in the digital world much easier.

Unfortunately, this same phenomenon of making complicated tasks more simple and foolproof has also happened in the hacking world, putting more demands on IT security.

In the past, someone would have to spend days writing their own code to launch a ransomware attack, but today you have exploit kits and plug-and-play ransomware that comes in a package all put together and easy to deploy.

This easy-to-use form of ransomware is designed to be packaged and sold on the underground marketplace of the Dark Web where you can purchase ransomware to encrypt a victim’s files for as little as $270.00.

With ransomware now being so easy to deploy coupled with the potential payback for a criminal, it’s no wonder that’s it’s been on the rise. The FBI recently warned in an alert titled, “High-Impact Ransomware Attacks Threaten U.S. Businesses and Organizations” that “losses from ransomware attacks have increased significantly” according to complaints received by the agency.

How Does Plug-and-Play Ransomware Work?

The plug-and-play component just makes the ransomware easier to use by any number of inexperienced or experienced criminals alike. 

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects a device or entire network and encrypts all the data, rendering it unusable. Ransomware attacks have shut down hospitals, municipalities, and businesses for days.

For example, in July 2019 several dental clinics in the Portland area were hit by ransomware attacks, which made accessing patient charts, appointment calendars and other data impossible. 

Once a system is infected, the hacker demands a ransom to undo the damage and return access to the victim’s data.

The average ransomware ransom demand is $13,000

Ransomware that is plug-and-play also makes it easier for hackers to monitor the number of downloads of the ransomware that’s been sent out and even set up a digital wallet to receive the bitcoin payments.

Think about how websites used to be made, requiring a designer using HTML code by hand or using an editor, and any component like a shopping cart and shipping calculation had to be constructed separately. This was very time-consuming and required a lot of skill, so only a certain percentage of people could effectively design websites.

Today with plug-and-play website platforms like WordPress and builders through sites like GoDaddy, even novice computer users can get a website up in an hour or two with full shopping cart capabilities because all the components are built in and designed to be deployed easily.

That’s how plug-and-play ransomware also works. Even an inexperienced criminal can purchase the software that allows them to start their very own ransomware business and have a way to collect and track payments, all without needing to write a single line of code.

So, in today’s plug-and-play software world, there are both a lot more people that can make a website and a lot more people that can deploy ransomware attacks.

Protecting Your Business Against Ransomware

Even though ransomware keeps getting more sophisticated and attack numbers along with ransom requests are increasing, there are some steps you can take to protect your organization from becoming a victim.

Many of these have to do with standard best practices for cybersecurity, while others are designed to take a “zero-trust” stance and keep all unknown programs from executing without permission.

Ensure Updates are Being Installed on Time

Unapplied updates that patch newly found vulnerabilities in operating systems and software can leave your network open to hackers and are often used as an entry point for ransomware.

Put a patch and update management program into place that ensures newly released updates are being applied in a timely manner.

Back Up Your Data

It’s surprising how many organizations have to pay attackers a ransom because they don’t have a full and recent back up of their data to restore. Having a reliable backup and recovery system in place takes away the only leverage that a ransomware attacker has on you and also protects your business in the event of any number of data loss possibilities.

Use Programs that Employ Whitelisting Tactics

Software that tells your devices not to allow unknown programs to execute can save you in the case that an employee accidentally clicks on a ransomware link. This is known as whitelisting, and basically, instead of allowing any application to run a program without intervention, it only allows those that are whitelisted.

Train Employees on Cybersecurity

Phishing emails are the #1 attack method for ransomware and other types of malware. You can give your employees the knowledge they need to spot them among all the other messages in their inbox through regular IT security training.

Insure Yourself Against Losses

If you’re trying to employ IT security measures yourself, you could end up missing an important entry point into your system and put yourself at risk of a costly breach. Genuine Technology Group offers a Cyber Breach Guarantee that protects you against up to $100,000 in losses.

Get a Security Assessment Today, Before the Next Attack Hits  

Is your network strong enough to prevent a ransomware attack? Threats are always evolving and what was fine two-years ago might not be strong enough to prevent today’s attacks.

Schedule a security assessment today to safeguard your business against ransomware and other emerging cyberthreats. Call 971-288-0880 or reach us online.