Ransomware a major threat in Australia, report claims

Like many other countries, ransomware continues to be one of the most persistent threats to Australia as well as this is expected to continue even into the future, according to the ACSC or Australian Cyber Security Centre’s annual threat report that was released a few days back.

In its usual sober and almost dry style, the Australian Cyber Security Centre said that some operators of ransomware had expanded their operations to a pseudo franchise model , called as Raas or ransomware-as-a-service.

Although ansomware is generally seen on Windows systems, infosec professionals claim that even other systems can be affected.

“RaaS provides entry to the ransomware market for anyone willing to pay, regardless of technical capability. RaaS developers write ransomware, build the infrastructure required to run a campaign and sell it through darknet markets,” the report said.

“The infrastructure is generally sold at a low price, with a percentage of profits returned to the vendor. Purchasers (known as affiliates) are generally provided access to a darknet-based dashboard.”

The ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operating model

The development of ransomware campaigns had grown in sophistication by using advanced forms of social engineering & employing known Australian brands & government department identities.

According to the report, most common way for ransomware to arrive on a Windows system was through mass-market untargeted phishing campaigns. Another common way for ransomware to arrive on a windows computer was infection through an exploit kit, a software tool kit that runs on a Web service as well as contains known exploits to infect visitors to a site.

The report also mentioned of credential-harvesting malware as well as social engineering, both of which are increasing. One form of social engineering which is prominent is business email compromise.

“Over 2016-17, reports to the ACIC’s Australian Cyber Crime Online Reporting Network indicated losses of more than $20 million due to business email compromise,” the report said.

“This was up from $8.6 million in 2015-16, representing an increase of more than 230%. This likely represents only a small percentage of total activity as both misreporting and under-reporting occurs.”