Ransomware gangs’ harassment of victims is increasing


The harassment reported by Palo Alto Networks System 42 typically takes the form of phone calls and emails directed towards employees, C-suite executives and even customers.

A worker discovering a ransomware attack. Image: PR Image Factory/Adobe Stock Ransomware groups are pulling no punches in their attempts to require jeopardized companies to pay up. A report launched Tuesday by Unit 42, a Palo Alto Networks risk intelligence group, discovered that attackers are increasingly harassing victims and associated celebrations to make certain their ransom needs are satisfied.

For its brand-new 2023 Ransomware and Extortion Risk Report, System 42 examined roughly 1,000 incidents that the group examined in between May 2021 and October 2022. Around 100 cases were analyzed for insight into ransomware and extortion settlements. The majority of the cases were based in the U.S., however the observed cybercriminals conducted attacks against services and organizations all over the world.

By the end of 2022, harassment was a consider 20% of the ransomware cases examined by Unit 42, a significant jump from less than 1% in mid 2021.

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Double-extortion and multi-extortion techniques from ransomware gangs

Among the crucial patterns revealed in the research study is that ransomware gangs are using more aggressive techniques to convince their victims to pay the ransom.

Double-extortion tactics

Over the past few years, double-extortion has ended up being a popular play, with the opponents not only securing the data however pledging to leak it openly unless the ransom is paid. In around 10% of the cases analyzed, the wrongdoers didn’t even trouble to encrypt the information but merely took it for the sole purpose of dripping it unless their ransom demands were fulfilled.

Targeting such sensitive information as health records and financial records, the attackers will publish the information on Dark Web leakage sites where other bad guys can access and exploit it for their own functions. These occurrences of data theft have shot up to around 70% of all cases typically, up from 40% in mid 2021.

Multi-extortion techniques

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Double-extortion tactics have actually now paved the way for multi-extortion approaches. In the latest occurrences, ransomware gangs are bothering victims and other individuals as a method to use much more pressure. The attackers generally email or call an organization’s workers, including those in the C-suite. In some cases, they’ll straight call the company’s consumers. They might publish info about the attack on social networks or reach out to the press to promote the event.

“Ransomware and extortion groups are requiring their victims into a pressure cooker, with the supreme goal of increasing their possibilities of earning money,” Wendi Whitmore, senior vice president and head of Unit 42 at Palo Alto Networks, stated in a press release. “Harassment has been associated with among every five ransomware cases we’ve investigated just recently, revealing the lengths that these groups want to go to coerce a payday. Numerous are presuming as to take advantage of client info that has actually been stolen to harass them and attempt to force the company’s hand into payment.”

Ransomware payments may be flexible

As ransomware continues to thrive, the Unit 42 group said they found that personal data from an average of seven victims are posted on leak sites each day, which is around one new victim every four hours. Ransomware payments ran as high as $7 million; nevertheless, the mean need was $650,000, while the average payment was $350,000, indicating that negotiating with the opponent can often decrease the amount.

How to resist or mitigate ransomware attacks

To assist your company better defend itself or recover from these brand-new types of ransomware attacks, System 42 provides a variety of suggestions.

Set up a danger intelligence program. One way to combat assailants is by learning more about the techniques, strategies and procedures that they utilize to jeopardize organizations. Toward this end, a hazard intelligence program can supply you with particular indications to help your security team examine your risks, see where you’re most susceptible, and figure out how to better secure your organization.

Prepare a playbook for multi-extortion. Before a ransomware attack strikes you, make sure you have a detailed occurrence response plan with clear instructions on which individuals to call in case of an occurrence. Know which stakeholders should be associated with the reaction and who makes the crucial choices, such as whether to pay the ransom and who is authorized to approve payments.

Usage Extended Detection and Action innovation to look for dangers. To react to hazards affecting your company, you have to be able to see them; one innovation that can assist in this regard is XDR. Offering you presence into your network and other possessions, XDR lets you observe activity throughout your endpoints in real time so that you can faster avoid attacks. The objective is to separate contaminated computer systems as harmful activity is found to prevent the attack from spreading.

Carry Out Zero Trust Architecture. Consisting of a cyberattack is key to protecting your most sensitive properties. Establishing a Absolutely No Trust Network Architecture reduces the possibilities that the aggressor will be able to broaden laterally throughout your network even if they’ve discovered one vulnerability. A fine-tuned variation of ZTNA called ZTNA 2 will develop layers of security designed to avoid an assailant from gaining a greater grip into your organization.

Offer ransomware harassment awareness training to workers. The proper training should be provided to staff members so that they understand how to react and whom to get in touch with if they’re being harassed in the aftermath of a ransomware attack. The training ought to also consist of actions to take if customers are being bothered as well.

Conduct a post-mortem analysis. Following a ransomware attack, scrutinize your network for any backdoors or other indicators of compromise that the enemies may have made use of. Make certain you eliminate or disable any susceptible properties or locations so that the same ransomware gang can’t perform a follow-up attack.


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