A strain of ransomware titled SamSam has earned its handlers over 5.1 million euros to date, according to estimates, since it first began hitting enterprises in 2015. Security firm Sophos has released the data in a report, after tracking the Bitcoin addresses found on SamSam ransom notes and sample files.
It seems that everyone in the cyber security sphere is talking about ransomware these days. Last year, attacks such as WannaCry, NotPetya and BadRabbit took the business world by storm, costing billions in damages. Ransomware is by no means a new threat (it has been around since at least 2005), but it is one of the fastest growing and most costly. Cyber crime is constantly changing, and criminals keep creating news ways to steal money. Ransomware has gotten increasingly sophisticated since 2005, but the people using and deploying it haven’t necessarily – now some cyber criminals are making more money selling high-tech ransomware strains to non-technical criminals than if they were to conduct the attacks themselves. The result is that more and more ‘hackers’ have access to ransomware and need very little technical know-how to operate it, leading to more and more ransomware attacks each year. It may come as a surprise, then, to hear that the FBI received less reports of ransomware attacks in 2017 than in 2016 and 2015, despite the increase in attacks.
The FBI reported just 1,783 reports of ransomware attacks in 2017, compared to 2,673 in 2016 and 2,453 in 2015.
Have you been hit by ransomware recently? According to a recent survey by CyberEdge, the most reliable approach (by far) to defending against ransomware is proactive rather than reactive. That is to say, having a robust backup and disaster recovery system in place is far more likely to result in minimal disruption and data loss than trying to pay the criminals in the hopes that they do the ‘honourable’ thing and decrypt your critical data. For the report, CyberEdge surveyed IT security professionals and found that more than half (55%) had been hit by ransomware in 2017. The study found that of those who had prepared for ransomware using backups and other business continuity procedures, 86.9% were able to successfully recover their data. However, of those who didn’t have backups to rely on and instead paid the ransom, only 49% actually had their data decrypted and recovered.
Thinking of paying ransomware demands? Think again, as less than half of ransomware payments result in successfully decrytped and restored data.
In a worrying new cyber threat trend, the record for largest DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) attack has been broken, not once, but twice, over the past week. A DDoS attack, in essence, is an attempt to make an online service (such as your business’s website) unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from various sources. Last week, the coding repository GitHub was briefly taken offline in a 1.3 Terrabits-per-second DDoS attack. This wasn’t entirely unsurprising, as DDoS attacks have been steadily building throughout 2018, but March has definitely been the worst month so far. Now, an unnamed US service provider has reported experiencing an even larger DDoS attack, which hit 1.7 Terrabits-per-second, only a few days after the previous record had been broken. This could pose a significant threat for many businesses that operate memcached database servers, which typically have high-bandwidth access and can be badly impacted by DDoS attacks.
At 1.7 Terrabits-per-second, the unnamed US service provider experienced the largest DDoS attack to date. These attacks are expected to increase in size and frequency going forward.
Trend Micro, one of the largest cyber security firms in the world, has released their annual security roundup report, and the results show some alarming trends. With the GDPR upcoming, cyber criminals have been refining their techniques in order to increase their financial gains, moving away from exploit kits which can be an unpredictable earner, to more reliable tactics such as business email compromise, phishing and spam, ransomware, and the relatively new threat to businesses, malicious crypto-currency mining.