Europol – the primary law enforcement agency in Europe – has cautioned that the masterminds behind the ransomware attacks are the nation-states. The WannaCry Ransomware campaign of 2017 has been cited as an example.
Last year, the WannaCry campaign managed to create massive havoc as various sectors were hit— notably the healthcare industry. Medical devices were hacked by the ransomware as healthcare institutions scrambled to provide support to their patients. Despite the eventual ransomware removal, the losses have been estimated to exceed the $4 billion mark.
Europol’s warnings have been detailed in its Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment 2018 report. Ransomware removal analysts noted that although the number of ransomware attacks may have been lesser in comparison to previous years, the threat was magnified due to the governments backing cybercriminals.
The report stated that financial and banking industry has increasingly become a favorite for ransomware campaigns. While hackers earlier favored the use of banking Trojans for the hacking of banking applications, cybercriminals have now started adopted ransomware as their preferred choice of hacking tool. The report listed the following ransomware as the most widely distributed ones:
- Locky Ransomware
- Dharma Ransomware
- Crysis Ransomware
- Cryptolocker Ransomware
- Cerber Ransomware
- CTB Locker Ransomware
The report noted that in the span of only a few years ransomware managed to rise steadily, and it has finally become the primary tool for hackers. The reason behind its popularity in the hacking forums has been attributed to its support for the business models of as-a-service and affiliate programmes. This means that anyone with an ill-intent can easily procure and utilize a ransomware through underground forms—especially the Dark Web.
In a Ransomware-as-a-Service model, the creators of a ransomware sell their ransomware for extremely cheap prices. As a result, anyone without programming and cyber security knowledge can purchase these ransomware and use them to extort money from any business or individual.