Getting hacked is scary enough, but it would appear that the Russian cyber criminal underground is trying to take this experience to the next level. A new type of ransomware now begins its attack with a verbal warning that the victim's files have been made inaccessible, according to Trend Micro researchers. This particular piece of malware has been dubbed CERBER.
Invoking fear plays a big role in many types of hacks, but doing so with a stern, robotic voice simply ads to the criminal's mystique. This is the first time Trend Micro has observed a piece of ransomware with a voice, indicating that this is a new concept for this type of attack.
Ransomware -as-a-Service becoming a frightening trend
After spending some time analyzing the code behind CERBER, Trend Micro researchers discovered that this ransomware attack is highly changeable. This, combined with news that it has gained a large presence on the Russian online black market, points to the conclusion that CERBER was made specifically to be sold to other criminals for later use.
These buyers generally don't need much cyber security training in order to deploy an attack, relying on the creator's knowledge to exploit victims. When one of these criminals does eventually end up infecting a user, the original writer of the code usually gets between 5 and 20 percent, according to Business Insider contributor Dan Turkel.
The biggest problem of this rising trend is the fact that it insulates the actual person behind the ransomware itself. Finding the culprit behind these attacks is hard enough as it is, with the Bitcoin payment being nearly impossible to track. Adding another layer in between the authorities and the hacker who created the code ensures the criminal's safety, thereby enabling him or her to continue selling ransomware to the highest bidder.
What else are hackers working on?
Although CERBER and Ransomware -as-a-Service as a whole certainly has some big implications for personal computing, recent examples show that hackers are setting their sites much higher than infecting a single computer. In fact, innovative techniques have allowed hackers to make increasingly complex ransomware that have begun to target entire networks.
Although multiple different industries have been hit by this kind of attack, it would appear that hackers have taken a shine to hospitals in particular. Multiple different medical facilities have been hit by ransomware recently, with one California hospital being forced to pay hackers $17,000 in Bitcoin to unlock its systems. This attack on hospitals makes sense from a hacker's point of view. These facilities rely on digital systems to help heal people, making them much more likely to pay the ransom quickly.
That said, the average user can do quite a lot to mitigate the risks of falling victim to a ransomware attack. It begins by staying vigilant when operating online. Users should be wary of clicking links they don't recognize or trust, especially when sent from an unknown email address. Aside from that, people should ensure that their software is updated and that their files are backed up in a separate location. Having a solid backup routine allows users to access their most important information even if they do fall victim to a ransomware attack, thereby decreasing the need to pay the ransom.