The Newest Network Security Hazard: Ransomware-as-a-Service

Since 2016, ransomware has been on the rise in all 50 states, and 2018 certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to be the year that ransomware gets beat once and for all. In fact, lawmakers are still deciding what to do about the growing ransomware problem, and experts predict that this year ransomware will finally become an official epidemic.

Of course, all that is old news. You probably already know that ransomware is a serious threat to your business. What you may not know about ransomware is why it’s growing so quickly. As a quick explanation, ransomware is a business model, and in the criminal world, the malware is created, marketed, and sold as a product.

And now, like all business software products these days, ransomware has made the leap to the cloud. That’s right: cybercriminals are marketing ransomware “as a service.”


Security Researchers Find Ransomware Ad

Recently, Australian security researchers stumbled across an ad for GandCrab, which is just one of the many variants of ransomware available now. Since GandCrab is delivered “as a service,” subscribers likely pay monthly or annual fees to the malware’s developers in order to have access to an up-to-date, flexible, and configurable product.

In fact, the ad sounds chillingly familiar; it sounds a lot like advertisements for many of today’s most common SaaS (cloud-based software as a service) applications.

Found on the dark web and written in Russian, the ransomware ad touts many benefits and features of the malware, including:

  • Partner program that offers 60/40 revenue sharing (up to 70% for larger partners)
  • Flexible configurations that allow you to set your ransom size, bot usage, and encryption options

(Seriously, this is a real ad selling malicious ransomware that steals from businesses and individuals. This actually exists. Keep that in mind or else you may overlook how truly creepy this advertisement is, ‘cause it sounds so familiar.) The ad continues:

  • Convenient administrator’s panel that you can use to set preferences
  • Automated features, such as automatic doubling of the ransomware if not paid on time
  • Included technical support and updates

The ad finishes by warning that it has a limited number of user licenses available, which is a common sales tactic (though never used so nefariously before), and it closes with an instructional video that shows prospects how GandCrab avoids detection by antivirus software.


Ugh. Just reading about this makes us feel like we have to shower.

Clearly, the hackers have reached a new low with this ad, but sadly the idea of ransomware as a service isn’t new; Cerber is one of the most common forms of ransomware and it’s developed and distributed much like GandCrab is.

What the ad and the existence of GandCrab shows is that, clearly, “ransomware as a service” is catching on. That’s not surprising, considering how successful the “as a service” model is the legitimate business world.

What this means for you is that it’s time to focus on network security.


How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware as a Service

With all the varieties of ransomware out there, it’s unlikely that your business will be hit with the GandCrab strain specifically. But it still pays to stay protected against every malware attack – and it’s surprisingly easy to block the vast majority of attacks.

The best way to avoid an attack from malware of any kind is to:

  • Update all your software on all your devices, terminals, and networks regularly
  • Install the latest security patches immediately
  • Ensure that you block known ransomware and phishing emails using spam blocking services
  • Train your staff to ID and avoid ransomware phishing traps (check out this study to learn the most effective phishing tactics)
  • Monitor your systems around the clock for suspicious activity that may indicate a breach

If worst comes to worst and you do become the victim of a cyberattack, you can ensure a faster, more effective recovery with less downtime if you supplement your network security protocols with a business continuity solution. These services back up your network and computers regularly, and also regularly test those backups, so you can rest easy knowing that your data is secured no matter what.


Get True Network Security with Interplay

If you’re looking for an IT services company that offers full-service network security solutions in the Seattle area, consider Interplay. Since 2001, Interplay has been a leader in managed services for small businesses, offering a range of solutions and pricing options for a varied client base.

Interplay can help with whatever network security measures your business needs to succeed, including performing device and network inventories that help you secure all your vulnerable access points; spam blocking and other email protection services; or even full, fixed-fee, around-the-clock network monitoring, patching, and software upgrades with tested backups that are performed as often as every five minutes.

It’s time for you to manage your IT systems and network better than you ever thought possible – at a cost you can afford.


Find out how easy it can be to set up your network security plan and get it going. Request a quote from Interplay to learn more.