New tactics for cyberattacks: hackers rent out blackmail software

New tactics for cyber attacks
Hackers rent out extortion software

Cyber ​​criminals paralyze companies or public institutions by encrypting their systems and extorting a ransom to release the sensitive data. This business is booming so much that a new generation of criminal hackers are even offering the fateful software as a rental service.

Cyber ​​criminals are increasingly using a type of rental software for their extortion attacks with encryption software, which is made available as a service by new gangs online. This comes from a report by the IT security company Palo Alto Networks. The security researchers observed a generation change in the ransomware scene. Large groups well known in the scene such as REvil and Darkside are withdrawing or renaming themselves to avoid the attention of law enforcement agencies and the media. To this end, new groups would be active.

Ransomware attacks are currently considered to be the biggest threat in cyberspace. Ransomware is malware that restricts or prevents victims’ access to data and systems, for example by encrypting all hard drives. The attackers demand a ransom for the decryption.

One of the new groups discovered by Palo Alto Networks is “Avos Locker”, which operates the criminal business as a rental service (“Ransomware as a Service”). The group’s service, which appears on the Internet with a blue Beetle logo, also includes a supposed service center. “Like many of its competitors, Avos Locker offers technical support to help clean up victims after they have been attacked with encryption software,” the report said.

Blackmail tool with social media option

The new group “Hive Ransomware” is not only relying on the encryption of important data of the selected targets, but has also developed blackmail tools to exert pressure with the publication of sensitive data. The tool even offers the option to share the stolen data on social media.

According to media reports, US President Joe Biden is now meeting with the heads of the world’s largest technology companies in the White House in Washington to discuss the country’s cybersecurity. As Bloomberg reports, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Andy Jassy from Amazon will take part in the round. In the US, ransomware attacks on the energy infrastructure recently made headlines, including one of the most important gasoline pipelines in the US. Cyber ​​hacking groups based in Russia are suspected to be the main reason for these attacks.