Common Types of Ransomware

Nov 06, 2020

Common Types of Ransomware

BY Courtney Heinbach

Cybersecurity Ransomware

As new ransomware variants arise on a regular basis, it can be difficult to keep track of the different strains. While each of these strains of malware are different, they often rely on similar tactics to take advantage of users and hold encrypted data hostage. Here are some of the most common types of ransomware out there:

Bad Rabbit

A strain of ransomware that has infected organizations in Russia and Eastern Europe. Bad Rabbit spreads through a fake Adobe Flash update on compromised websites. When the ransomware infects a machine, users are directed to a payment page demanding .05 bitcoin. 

Cerber

Cerber targets cloud-based Microsoft 365 users and has impacted millions of users using an elaborate phishing campaign. This type of malware emphasizes the growing need for SaaS backup in addition to on-premises.

CryptoLocker

Ransomware has been around in some form or another for the past two decades, but it really came to prominence in 2013 with CryptoLocker. The original CryptoLocker botnet was shut down in May 2014, but not before the hackers behind it extorted nearly $3 million from victims. Since then, hackers have widely copied the CryptoLocker approach, although the variants in operation today are not directly linked to the original. The word CryptoLocker, much like Xerox and Kleenex in their respective worlds, has become almost synonymous with ransomware.

CryptoWall

CryptoWall gained notoriety after the downfall of the original CryptoLocker. It first appeared in early 2014, and variants have appeared with a variety of names, including CryptoBit, CryptoDefense, CryptoWall 2.0, and CryptoWall 3.0. Like CryptoLocker, CryptoWall is distributed via spam or exploit kits.

Crysis

Crysis ransomware encrypts files on fixed, removable, and network drives with a strong encryption algorithm making it difficult to crack in a reasonable amount of time. It's typically spread via emails containing attachments with double-file extension, which makes the file appear as a non-executable file. In addition to emails, it can also be disguised as a legitimate installer for applications.

CTB-Locker

The criminals behind CTB-Locker take a different approach to malware distribution. Taking a page from the playbooks of Girl Scout Cookies and Mary Kay Cosmetics, these hackers outsource the infection process to partners in exchange for a cut of the profits. This is a proven strategy for achieving large volumes of malware infections at a faster rate.

GoldenEye

GoldenEye is similar to the prolific Petya ransomware. Hackers spread GoldenEye ransomware through a massive campaign targeting human resources departments. After the file is downloaded, a macro is launched which encrypts files on the computer. For each file it encrypts, GoldenEye adds a random 8-character extension at the end. The ransomware then also modifies the user's hard drive MBR (Master Boot Record) with a custom boot loader. 

Jigsaw

Jigsaw encrypts and progressively deletes files until a ransom is paid. The ransomware deletes a single file after the first hour, then deletes more and more per hour until the 72-hour mark, when all remaining files are deleted.

KeRanger

According to ArsTechnica, KeRanger ransomware was discovered on a popular BitTorrent client. KeRanger isn't widely distributed, but it's known as the first fully functioning ransomware designed to lock Mac OS X applications.

LeChiffre

"Le Chiffre", which comes from the French noun "chiffrement" meaning "encryption", is the main villain from James Bond's Casino Royale novel who kidnaps Bond's love interest to lure him into a trap and steal his money. Unlike other variants, hackers must run LeChiffre manually on the compromised system. Cybercriminals automatically scan networks in search of poorly secured remote desktops, logging into them remotely and manually running an instance of the virus.

LockerGoga

This strain of ransomware hit various European manufacturing companies, including Norsk Hydro. The ransomware infiltrated the company through a phishing email, causing a global IT outage and forcing the company to order hundreds of new computers.  

Locky

Locky's approach is similar to many other types of ransomware. The malware is spread in an email message disguised as an invoice. When opened, the invoice is scrambled and the victim is instructed to enable macros to read the document. When macros are enabled, Locky begins encrypting a large array of file types using AES encryption. 

NotPetya

Initial reports categorized NotPetya as a variant of Petya, a strain of ransomware first seen in 2016. However, researchers now believe NotPetya is instead a malware known as a wiper with the sole purpose of destroying data instead of obtaining a ransom. 

Petya

Unlike some other types of ransomware, Petya encrypts entire computer systems. Petya overwrites the master boot record, rendering the operating system unbootable. 

Ryuk

Ryuk ransomware has been wreaking havoc on innocent victims particularly throughout 2020. Reports state that Ryuk ransomware has been responsible for more than a third of all ransomware attacks so far in 2020, clearly gaining popularity. Ryuk is used in attacks targeting companies, hospitals, and government municipalities. Ryuk encrypts business-critical files and demands a high ransom - typically in the multi-millions.

Spider

A form of ransomware spread via spam emails across Europe. Spider ransomware is hidden in Microsoft Word documents that install the malware on a victim’s computer when downloaded. The Word document, which is disguised as a debt collection notice, contains malicious macros. When these macros are executed, the ransomware begins to download and encrypt the victim's data.

TeslaCrypt

Like most of the other examples here, TeslaCrypt uses an AES algorithm to encrypt files. It's typically distributed via the Angler exploit kit specifically attacking Adobe vulnerabilities. Once a vulnerability is exploited, TeslaCrypt installs itself in the Microsoft temp folder.

TorrentLocker

TorrentLocker is typically distributed through spam email campaigns and is geographically targeted with email messages delivered to specific regions. TorrentLocker is often referred to as CryptoLocker, and it uses an AES algorithm to encrypt file types. In addition to encoding files, it also collects email addresses from the victim’s address book to spread malware beyond the initially infected computer—this is unique to TorrentLocker.

WannaCry

WannaCry is a widespread ransomware campaign that affected organizations across the globe. The ransomware hit over 125,000 organizations in over 150 countries. The ransomware strain affected Windows machines through a Microsoft exploit known as EternalBlue.

ZCryptor

ZCryptor is a self-propagating malware strain that exhibits worm-like behavior, encrypting files and also infecting external drives and flash drives so it can be distributed to other computers.

To find out about ransomware and what MSPs can do to fight back against ransomware and protect the small and medium businesses of the world, check out Datto's State of the Channel Ransomware Report. The report features new stats and forecasts on ransomware and its impact on businesses, the leading variants, best practices for ransomware protection, and more. 

Datto’s Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report

Ransomware is a growing problem for businesses of all sizes. In our annual report, learn about the risks MSPs and the channel face, and how businesses are working to combat ransomware.

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