What Is Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)?

By George Rouse

One of the overlooked effects of the coronavirus pandemic was how much it accelerated digitalization of the business world. Unfortunately, the incredible advantages of digitalizing business also come with certain disadvantages. Top news outlets have reported on the growing number of cyber attacks that have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from victims around the country.

The more we depend on the digital world, the more susceptible we are to cyber attacks. This is especially true because of the growing prevalence of ransomware as a service. It is now becoming a lot easier to engage in certain kinds of cyber crime.

Fortunately, this issue is important enough that people have put a lot of thought into how to manage it. One of the first things to understand is what ransomware as a service even is. Read on to learn all about the most important things that you need to understand about ransomware as a service and how you can improve your cyber security!

What is RaaS?

RaaS is a common acronym used to refer to ransomware as a service. Ransomware as a service (RaaS) is the offering of pay-for-use malware. It is created for extortion over stolen or encrypted data, known as ransomware. The author of the ransomware makes the software available to customers called affiliates, who use the software to hold people's data hostage with little technical skill.

To understand ransomware as a service, you must first understand what ransomware itself is.

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects files, folders, and systems of businesses and other institutions, and encrypts their essential data, making it unavailable unless a ransom is paid.

Because many businesses and institutions are completely dependent on their data,they feel compelled to pay a ransom in order to regain access to their data.

There are a number of ways to prevent the effects of ransomware. For example, many people use backup data systems. That way, even if malware encrypts their data, they will still be able to access a copied backup of it.

These kinds of cyber security measures may need to become more common. Ransomware as a service allows people to pay a fee to access powerful ransomware code.

Historically, only savvy cyber criminals were able to initiate ransomware attacks. However, with the advent of ransomware as a service, practically anybody could initiate a ransomware attack against an unwary target.

How does RaaS work?

People who use ransomware as a service pay a fee to do so. They also provide some of the money they make from their ransoms as further payment in exchange for being allowed to use ransomware.

Unfortunately, this affiliate-type business model has a lot of potential. It creates a greater incentive for people to develop powerful ransomware and distribute it.

These days, there are a variety of cryptocurrency options that also allow people to make transactions with extreme privacy. That makes it extremely difficult to hold providers of ransomware as a service accountable for their actions.

These are just a few ways that the development of new technology is facilitating the initiation of new types of crime. Providers of ransomware as a service are even providing detailed instructions for how to adapt their criminal software for various kinds of targets.

In many cases, ransomware gains access to a system through the mistake of an employee. Phishing emails try to trick employees into providing passwords and other information that will allow criminals to access the data of a business or institution.

In theory, employees can learn to identify phishing emails and not respond to them. In practice, large institutions have so many employees that it is almost inevitable that one of them will fall for an email scam.

That is especially true considering the growing sophistication of phishing email scams. Sometimes, it is almost impossible to tell that an email is actually part of a scheme to distribute ransomware.

How to respond to ransomware software

People have been responding to business cyber crime for a few decades. There is still a lot to learn. Many people wonder if they should pay the requested ransom when they suffer from ransomware.

Refusing to pay ransom can decrease incentives for future ransomware. It can make a cyber criminal decide that they should spend their effort elsewhere.

Unfortunately, that can come at an extremely high cost. Losing access to essential data can mean the disintegration of a business or institution.

Of course, it is not guaranteed that you will gain access to your data again even if you do pay a ransom. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer for how to respond to ransomware. The best response is to be prepared in advance.

Be prepared for ransomware attacks

Training employees to recognize phishing emails can help protect you from ransomware. You can also set up backup data systems so that you are not reliant on any single copy of your data.

Another way to prepare is to ensure you are using powerful anti-malware software, or you can rely on information technology experts to set up validation processes for communication on your network.

Understanding the importance of ransomware as a service

We hope learning a little more about ransomware as a service has been helpful to you. Many people understand that the world is becoming more digital without appreciating that this makes everything more susceptible to cyber attacks at the same time. As long as people continue to update their knowledge about how to keep themselves safe in the digital world, the digitalization of business should be mostly positive.

Part of staying on top of technological developments is understanding things like ransomware as a service.

To learn more about ransomware as a service or to speak with experts about Datto’s cyber security solutions, get in touch with us here!

Reduce the impact of crypto-ransomware with RMM Ransomware Detection

Datto RMM Product Manager, demonstrates how RMM Ransomware Detection monitors for the presence of ransomware in real time, attempts to terminate the ransomware process, and isolates infected devices from the network to prevent further spread

View the Resource

Suggested Next Reads