Navigating Cyber Crime's Path for 2022
January 13, 2022

Grayson Milbourne
Carbonite + Webroot

Recently, the cybercrime unit of the United States Internal Revenue Service reported that $3.5 billion in cryptocurrencies were seized during 2021 — 93% of all cyber seizures this year — proving that organizations must stay vigilant and understand their greatest security risks ahead of 2022.

Over this past year, we have seen cybercriminals get smarter and quicker at retooling their tactics to follow new bad actor schemes. Participants in the ecosystem within cybercrime are behaving like all rational actors within an economy, responding to incentives, and specializing their capabilities while focusing on their advantages. The two most significant groups, cyber-criminal syndicates and nation-states are increasingly forming coalitions of convenience. Unfortunately, we don't anticipate that changing in 2022. With the evolving threat landscape and continued impact of the pandemic, it remains crucial businesses stay abreast of new cybercriminal trends so they can be proactive and actionable in protecting their data and information.

Ransomware: Exploit-as-a-Service?

The adage of try-before-you-buy is raring its head again, but this time in ransomware with Exploit-as-a-Service (EaaS). Most of us are aware of ransomware gangs making headlines; those who can afford to pay upwards of $10 million dollars for a zero-day exploit, an easy way to make money for experienced criminals. Cybercriminals without the same budget or means to exploit now have options to rent out malicious code from developers — this is one of the newest, and more complicated layers of risk and threats for security teams.

This newer, Exploit-as-a-Service model allows malicious threat actors and developers to generate large earnings by renting a zero-day vulnerability as they wait for a buyer to pay outright, allowing the ‘renter' to try and test the proposed zero-day, and later decide whether to purchase the exploit on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. Such cybercriminal-renters might also have the ability to share tutorials and reviews of their preferred (or least favorite) tool/code on the market, similarly like many consumers do with goods and services.

Ransomware: The as-a-Service Climate Changes

The shift of power within the Ransomware-as-a-Service eco-climate is upon us — from those who control the ransomware to those who control [a] victim's networks — and they have become more self-reliant in the process. It cannot be denied that cybercrime is an ultramodern industry and those within the industry who decide to apply their knowledge and skills not only jeopardize national security and hold critical infrastructure for ransom, but they are uniquely and unfortunately, some of the best in the business. Any exploration of the vast range of new attack techniques and their advanced capabilities points to an underground industry that's growing exponentially in size and sophistication.

Services are sweeping the business scene as organizations package together their expertise and products to offer easy solutions to those without their own time or resources to complete a task; ransomware-as-a-service is no different. Attack vectors can be loaded up with new capabilities (Exploits-as-a-Service) and sold to those wishing to carry out attacks which only diversifies and expands the pool of those with the ability to attack, making ransomware available to all.

What's Next?

No longer are cyber attackers seeking a quick payment in return for the restoration of hijacked systems: the new cyber criminals know that a brand's reputation is worth far more. Cyber insurance is not enough to protect businesses data and assets. A prevention-first approach is by far the best way to reclaim control of your data — ensuring security teams and IT counterparts work seamlessly together to provide the highest level of security and management possible to counter the newest wave of cyber criminals.

Combine a solid backup and recovery plan with expertise to analyze and define risks, make decisions based on big data, and dynamically apply a set of zero trust policy controls to combat the newest threats, and reclaim control over your data.

Grayson Milbourne is Security Intelligence Director for Carbonite + Webroot
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