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    Ransomware-as-a-Service: How It Works & How to Prevent It

    Ransomware is already a huge problem for companies, and it’s about to get a lot worse. Currently, the average cost for businesses to recover their data after a ransomware attack is approximately $1.85 million. To further complicate matters, some ransomware developers are offering their malware as a subscription service. Ransomware-as-a-service is a growing threat for businesses, and it made up nearly two-thirds of all ransomware attacks in 2020. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at what ransomware-as-a-service is and how you can protect your business against it.

    Ransomware-as-a-service overview

    What is ransomware-as-a-service?

    Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) is the process where ransomware developers offer their products on a subscription basis, much like legitimate software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. These RaaS providers offer kits ranging from as little as $40 to several thousand dollars that enable ill-intentioned people without development skills to create their own ransomware variants. Think of it as low-code or no-code software, but for ransomware.

    Overall, ransomware raked in about $20 billion in 2020. Ransomware-as-a-service is big business, and it’s a competitive market. The companies offering it have full websites equipped with white papers, tutorials, and even active social media presences to promote it. As ransomware’s revenues continue to grow, the RaaS market will too.

    Why ransomware-as-a-service is so dangerous

    Ransomware-as-a-service is such a large problem because it makes harmful technology available to a wider audience. Users don’t have to have any development experience, and RaaS companies provide tech support to help their customers get up and running. While there’s never a guarantee that you’ll get your data back if you pay the ransom, there’s even less of a chance you will with so many new players in the game.

    Additionally, ransomware from an RaaS provider is harder to investigate. The attacks from each strain of RaaS are nearly identical, making it difficult for threat investigators to gain any insight on who initiated the attack on your company.

    The good news about ransomware-as-a-service

    There is a silver lining to this growing market. Because attackers are sourcing ransomware from other hackers rather than spending the time developing their own, the signatures from each RaaS provider are generally the same. RaaS may have some customization available, but overall, it looks for the same entry points and runs in similar ways.

    This means you can protect yourself against it. Most cybersecurity tools include some form of signature matching. As soon as a ransomware strain has been detected once, not just in your company but worldwide, the software can identify it quickly and block it.

    Also read: How to Prevent & Respond to Ransomware

    Tools that can prevent ransomware

    Preventing ransomware-as-a-service follows the same principles as preventing general ransomware. Many organizations will already have these protections in place, but if yours doesn’t, here are the cybersecurity tools you’ll need.

    Endpoint protection

    Most endpoint protection platforms (EPPs) include antivirus software and data encryption for your computer, smartphone, and other endpoints, like printers. It provides a centralized console to monitor your devices’ security and can stop ransomware before it ever infects your device. Many EPPs also include artificial intelligence to detect behavioral anomalies and flag potential breaches.

    Also read: EDR vs EPP Security Solutions

    Next-generation firewalls

    Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) offer an extra layer of security for your corporate network. They block malware at the network level to keep your data secure in the event that an endpoint becomes compromised. An NGFW inspects applications, prevents breaches, and provides threat intelligence from outside of the network.

    Backup and recovery services

    While not technically a cybersecurity product, backup and recovery services automatically create backups of your data to prevent ransomware from actually causing damage to your company. Should ransomware encrypt some of your files, you’ll have recent backups available, meaning you won’t need to pay to get them back.

    How you can protect your business from ransomware

    Ransomware breaches are expensive, but it is possible to prevent them. You first need to have solid, reliable cybersecurity tools in place to block ransomware or quickly detect it if it is able to access your network. Software with AI identifies issues faster and reduces the workload on your security team.

    You also need to regularly back up important files and store them separately from the originals. It won’t matter if your files get encrypted if you have a backup. You can simply remove the ransomware from your device and fortify your network against future attacks. You should also test these backups regularly.

    Finally, you should train all of your employees on cybersecurity basics and make them aware of what to look out for in phishing attempts and similar attacks. Human error is the biggest cause of breaches, so also consider implementing zero-trust protocols and role-based access to ensure that your employees don’t have access to more data than they need.

    RaaS is a growing problem, but by taking the proper security measures, your company can avoid falling victim to it. Invest in cybersecurity, train your team, and backup your data to keep these bad actors from getting what they want.

    Read next: Understanding the Zero Trust Approach to Network Security

    Jenn Fulmer
    Jenn Fulmer is a content writer for TechnologyAdvice, IT Business Edge, and Baseline currently based in Lexington, KY. Using detailed, research-based content, she aims to help businesses find the technology they need to maximize their success and protect their data.

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