What is Ransomware?
Ransomware can be described as a malicious malware or software that can affect your system and threaten to destroy your data, refusing access to it. The perpetrator demands a ransom that needs to be paid, mostly in bitcoin, promising the victim to restore the system to its original form- which isn’t the case mostly. The instructions on how to make the payment are provided by the attacker who in turn hands over decrypting codes. The payment could range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars without any guarantee that the data will be recovered.
Ransomware has Become a Thriving Market
Believe it or not, ransomware is a booming business and has gotten quite a reputation on the dark web, so much so that ransomware sellers are making more than $100,000 per year. This is just a small figure compared to its sales on the dark web that have skyrocketed to a whopping $6m from $250,000 as observed by Carbon Black.
So at what price points do these ransomwares sell? They can be bought for somewhere between $10 to $1400, depending on whether it is for mobile, web or needs customizations according to the requirements of the buyers. Naturally, ransomware that needs more customizations, would sell for a higher price. The highest a ransomware was sold at $3,000. It custom made and the lowest it could be priced at is $1, which could be something as simple as locking the admin account.
The developers of these malwares provide several options for customizations, including targeting certain files, corrupting data, removal of files and a timer that deletes files after certain intervals, if the ransom isn’t paid.
The ransomware market is largely controlled by professional gangs that are highly skilled. Although there are some low scammers who are looking to make quick money, but because of their poorly built malwares the market may decline. The threat that was already there because of cybercriminals has increased in intensity, as they have developed complete ransomware kits that anyone can use without needing to have proper skills. This places a larger threat as the power can be obtained by anyone who is looking to make money through wrong means.
The flourishing economy of ransomware is linked to its large collection of options that are available. Another factor that adds to the economy is that with little investment and overheads, you can run a good sized campaign.
Next in line adding fuel to the fire, would be the victims that are ready to pay large ransom amounts to save their systems from the threats imposed by these criminals. According to FBI, in 2016 nearly more than $1 billion USD was paid as ransom amount.
This will continue to happen unless organizations invest in cybersecurity and protect their systems from any potential harm and block ransomwares. Only then we can break their chain and leave these gangs helpless. A study showed that when asked from firms and companies whether they will be willing to pay large ransom sums in order to get their systems back and restored, they said they would. This is the weak point that is exploited by the ransomware gangs and they gain large salaries from doing so.