Ransomware is so widespread and dangerous it is pulling other dark arts into its orbit and creating an ecosystem that is causing global havoc.
The word ransomware is whispered in corridors, from critical infrastructure to corporate supply chains and corporations themselves, as its shadow draws a pall of fear over the digital world.
It has come upon us so fast that we are reeling. The normal techniques for dealing with ransom situations is redundant, even as politicians spout their rhetoric about ‘never giving in’ – while quietly giving in.
An article from the editor of the MIT Review demonstrates its speed. A decade ago, he says, he was hacked—big time. The bad guys got into his Apple, Google, Twitter, pretty much everything accounts and ‘torched’ the lot, including hundreds of pictures of his young daughter. He wrote about this ‘cottage industry’ and the new, dangerous world of hackers and hacking. At the time, it was new – as new as the concept of a transformation to a digital (first) world.
Now, ransomware is a household word and a scary one.
It has reached the highest levels of politics and power in record time. Late last week, US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo travelled to the Middle East in a bid to build partnerships to combat the threat to America’s vital industries.
In the long term, partnerships and greater cooperation may be the only way for us to survive this threat.
According to security firm Sophos, in its 2022 Threat Report, the threat from ransomware is only going to grow in both scope and sophistication.
Now, according to Sophos, we are in a situation where we have ‘attack “specialists” offering different elements of an attack “as-a-service” and providing playbooks with tools and techniques that enable different adversary groups to implement very similar attacks.’
Ransomware is now ‘ransomware as a service.’ One specialist breaks in waits for the all-clear, then the client goes in and steals what he needs, then the ransom is demanded.
Sometimes but not always, does the victim get all his data back.
The reason that ransomware is so sophisticated and all-consuming is for two simple reasons.
Money and Power.
For an ‘adversarial’ State to know that it can bring critical infrastructure to its knees is great for that State, horrifying for the target. And, of course, other dark organisations have not overlooked the opportunity. You can bet your farm that the Mafias of this world have sold their gambling businesses and are taking full advantage of the ransomware gold mine.
Ransomware is now a very real and present threat, and it has become so in 10 short years, from its roots as a cottage industry.
Let us hope that the US initiative, and others such as a new ‘ransomware kill switch‘, bring some sort of protection against ransomware and its growing army of dark partners.