Ransomware is a rising global threat that many organisations worldwide have had to face over the years. Since it first caught mainstream attention with the global WannaCry outbreak several years ago, it’s almost as if ransomware has become a constant thorn in the side of organisations across all industries. Fast forward to 2021, it doesn’t seem like the ransomware threat is going away anytime soon. In fact, it seems to be escalating.
To find out more, CSA reached out to BlackBerry’s Director of Engineering, APJ, Jonathan Jackson, who explained how today’s organisations no longer have to only deal with catastrophic data loss, but attackers are even threatening to publish exfiltrated data to damage the victim’s brand.
On top of that, ransomware attacks seem to be more accessible than ever with the rise of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS). According to Jonathan, RaaS is a new business model for ransomware developers. Just like Software as a Service (SaaS), ransomware developers can now sell or lease their ransomware variants to affiliates who don’t have the skill sets to execute a sophisticated ransomware attack.
RaaS Delivering Ransomware to the Masses
Because of its simplicity and promise of huge financial returns, RaaS is growing in popularity. “Now, you can pay for somebody to do that and they can take the cut on whatever the ransomware demand is. That’s how you leverage these services which are free and available in the deep web”, said Jonathan.
With many very capable, clever, and well-funded organisations out there, Hack for Hire or APT groups can quickly sell powerful toolsets that can help individuals or organisations execute a successful ransomware attack. That’s how “easy” it has become.
The fact that hacks and data breaches happen daily hasn’t helped either. Jonathan explained that those data breaches usually lead to stolen credentials, which are then sold to the deep web. “It is leveraging the fact that a lot of organisations are being breached and it is very easy to gain access to those credentials and once you get access to those credentials, then you can execute a successful ransomware attack”, he said.
In that case, business leaders would need to know if their company is vulnerable to ransomware attacks. It’s important that they know and understand the threats that are out there, potential vulnerabilities that are on their system and how to ensure their company is safe. Jonathan explained further in this video:
Seeing the Pandemic as a Cybersecurity Vulnerability
There was a huge rise in not only ransomware attacks but also phishing attacks, spam, and many other cyber threats during the global pandemic. Cybercriminals are very good at exploiting a vulnerability and interestingly, BlackBerry talks about the COVID-19 pandemic as a vulnerability from a cybersecurity perspective. Jonathan spoke about how BlackBerry has seen a spike of COVID-related phishing campaigns as well as fake applications that did nothing more than steal data from unsuspecting victims.
As mentioned earlier, with “Hack for Hire” groups being in demand to help organisations execute cyber attacks, BlackBerry saw this as a rising cyber threat. “We recently released the BlackBerry Threat Report for 2021, which highlights the number of threat actors that we found from the threat intelligence from a threat research perspective. One of them is called, CostaRicto and the other one is called Bahamut. These are groups that are very targeted in their efforts to exfiltrate data and gain access to systems”, said Jonathan.
He added that while everyone was hoping that 2021 was going to be the year that the cyber threats settled down, BlackBerry is seeing the opposite. The number of zero-day attacks has gone up recently and these types of attacks are very hard for organisations to protect themselves from and to prepare for.
As the company transitions away from being an electronic devices company, where does BlackBerry stand in the cybersecurity market? Jonathan sees that the company itself has grown and is on a mission to “protect everything”.
“Everything” means anything that is connected to something, such as a connected car. “We are hugely invested in the car space – the software that runs behind the dashboard. We have an autonomous driving capability. So, the connected car space is something we are heavily investing in the future and we are also investing in the IoT space”, explained Jonathan.
To keep their customers and clients cyber safe, BlackBerry has Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) powered solutions that are capable of protecting applications, data, endpoints, devices and users from modern cyber attacks.