SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Ransomware as a service explained: What is RaaS

By Contributor
Thu 17 Mar 2022

Article by Varonis.

Ransomware as a service (RaaS) is a major threat to all cybersecurity data and systems. Similar to software as a service (SaaS), RaaS provides easy subscription-based access to ransomware to those with little-to-no programming expertise.

With the popularity of RaaS growing, companies and organisations of all shapes and sizes should be well-versed in reducing the chances they’ll be victimised by a RaaS attack. We’ll cover what RaaS is, how the business model and technology works, and how to prevent attacks.

What is ransomware as a service?

RaaS is a subscription-based model that enables users, also known as affiliates, to use ransomware tools to execute attacks. As opposed to normal ransomware, RaaS is a provider of out-of-the-box ransomware tools to subscribers who pay to be an affiliate of the program. Stemming from SaaS, RaaS affiliates are paying for the ongoing use of malicious software.

Some affiliates pay less than $100 per month, while others pay upwards of $1,000. Regardless of the subscription cost, affiliates earn a percentage of each successful ransom payment following an attack. RaaS enables malicious attacks with lucrative rewards to be collected effortlessly, even by users with no prior knowledge or experience in the field. Cerber is one example of a popular RaaS on the market.

How does ransomware as a service work?

Two parties work together to execute a successful RaaS attack: Developers and Affiliates. Developers are responsible for creating a specific code within the ransomware which is then sold to an affiliate. Developers provide the ransomware code along with instructions on how to launch the attack. RaaS is user-friendly and requires minimal technical expertise. Any individual with access to the dark web can log into the portal, become an affiliate, and initiate attacks at the click of a button.

To get started, affiliates select the type of malware they wish to spread and pay with some form of cryptocurrency, typically Bitcoin. Once the attack is successful and ransom money is received, the profits are split between the developer and the affiliate. How the money is divided is dependent upon the type of revenue model. 

The four RaaS revenue models

Most RaaS arrangements fall under one of the four following revenue models:

Monthly Subscription: Users pay a flat fee every month and earn a small percentage of each successful ransom.

Affiliate Programs: A small percentage of profits go to the RaaS operator to run a more efficient service and increase profits.

One-time License Fee: As the name of the model indicates, users pay a one-time fee with no profit sharing. Affiliates then have access in perpetuity.

Pure Profit Sharing: Profits are divided among users and operators with pre-determined percentages upon the license purchase.

Once you familiarise yourself with how RaaS works and the various profit models, you should begin formulating a defence plan.

How to prevent RaaS attacks

Advances in technology have made it easier for code developers and affiliates to infiltrate systems and extract lucrative ransoms from organisations. Ransomware attacks have increased by 33 per cent since 2019, with affiliates making up to 80 per cent from each payment. To prevent yourself from becoming one of these statistics, here are four must-know tips to prevent RaaS attacks.

1. Backup data consistently

Confidential and private data is typically the main target of a RaaS attack. Hackers compromise your systems or data then threaten to steal or release it if the ransom isn’t met. By backing up data, RaaS attackers won’t have the same leverage as they would if they’re in sole possession. So don’t solely rely on cloud storage, backup your data on external hard drives as a preventative measure against RaaS.

2. Keep software updated

Another efficient way to prevent RaaS attacks is to keep your system software up to date. This includes your anti-virus measures. Systems using older versions are an apparent weakness that cyber-criminals are keen to exploit. Software updates also increase network security by patching vulnerabilities and ensuring bug fixes. Also, maintain a rigorous patch program to protect from known vulnerabilities and potential new RaaS technologies.

3. Ongoing employee training

RaaS attackers often trick victims with phishing emails that contain malicious links and attachments. If the message is from an unknown sender or raises scepticism, personnel should already know to avoid it immediately. Train users on how to identify, quarantine, and report malicious messages to avoid unnecessary damage. Conduct regular and updated training on common RaaS tactics like phishing and social engineering.

4. Proactive detection & protection

In addition to keeping your cybersecurity software updated, you’ll want to employ technology that focuses on endpoint protection and threat detection. You’ll want your defences running on an ongoing, 24/7 basis to protect against RaaS. There are many programs to consider that implement various smart tools to detect and remove ransomware threats. For example, DatAlert notifies companies of potential threats and provides insights into suspicious activity and events across multiple data points

The future of RaaS

RaaS attacks are only going to increase in frequency and popularity amongst cybercriminals. One recent survey found that over 60 per cent of all cyberattacks in the past 18 months were RaaS. The ease of use - and the fact that no technical experience is required - is only broadening the appeal of RaaS. 

We can also expect an uptick in RaaS attacks focusing on critical infrastructure. This includes healthcare, government, transportation, and energy. As supply chain difficulties persist through 2022, hackers see these key sectors and institutions as more vulnerable than ever, putting things like hospitals and power plants in the crosshairs of RaaS attackers.

One of the more popular RaaS platforms on the market, Netwalker, has been specifically targeting healthcare and educational institutions. And to defend against these types of RaaS efforts, it’s likely that organisations will invest even more heavily in proactive threat detection and employee training to reduce human error as a point of failure.

Closing thoughts

The unfortunate reality is that RaaS looks like it’s here to stay for the time being. To safeguard against RaaS attacks, you’ll need a holistic technology and cybersecurity strategy to minimise the chances of a successful RaaS attack. You’ll also want to strongly consider enlisting an experienced ransomware prevention partner to keep your defences up around the clock and avoid paying hefty sums of Bitcoin to get your critical data and systems back.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Kubernetes
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Microsoft
Global cybersecurity insurance market worth $11.5b this year
Future Market Insights finds the cybersecurity insurance market is expected to reach USD$11.5 billion in 2022, growing to $61.2 billion in 10 years.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Phishing
KnowBe4 celebrates reaching 50,000 customers worldwide
KnowBe4 has reached the milestone of 50,000 customers, adding nearly 2,500 in the first quarter of 2022 alone.
Story image
ChildFund
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Infoblox's State of Security Report spotlights Australian remote work hazards
Attackers exploit weak WiFi, remote endpoints, and the cloud, costing 50% of organisations over $1.3 million in breach damages.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hard numbers: Why ambiguity in cybersecurity no longer adds up
As cybersecurity costs and risks continue to escalate, CEOs continue to struggle with what their investment in cyber protection buys. Getting rid of ambiguity becomes necessary.
Story image
Ransomware
A third of companies paying ransom don’t recover data - report
Veeam's report finds 76% of businesses who are victims of cyberattacks paid the ransom to recover data, but a third were still unable to get their information back.
Story image
Apricorn
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
Training
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
Ransomware
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Workato
Workato unveils enhancements to enterprise automation platform
"The extra layer of protection with EKM, zero-logging, and hourly key rotation gives customers a lot more visibility and control over more sensitive data."
Story image
Ivanti
Ivanti and Lookout bring zero trust security to hybrid work
Ivanti and Lookout have joined forces to help organisations accelerate cloud adoption and mature their zero trust security posture in the everywhere workplace.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
VPN
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.
Story image
BeyondTrust
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Qualys
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Surveillance
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Nozomi Networks
Nozomi Networks, Siemens reveal software integration
Nozomi Networks and Siemens have extended their partnership by embedding Nozomi Networks’ software into the Siemens Scalance LPE local processing engine.
Story image
Remote Working
Australia’s remote workers face connectivity and security issues
SOTI's new report finds better video conferencing technology and improved security measures are top concerns for remote workers in Australia.
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
Cybersecurity
BlackBerry offers Kaspersky replacement cybersecurity for the channel
BlackBerry advises that users of Kaspersky software in Australia and New Zealand undertake a rigorous risk analysis of their current security posture.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Remote Working
How zero trust and SD-WANs can support productive remote working
The way people connect with applications and data has changed, users are remotely accessing resources that could be stored anywhere from a corporate data center to the cloud.
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Managed service providers: effective scoping to avoid costly vendor pitfalls
Managed security services are outsourced services focusing on the security and resilience of business networks.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Noname Security partners with Netpoleon to target API issues
Specialist API security firm Noname Security has appointed Netpoleon as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
SaaS
Rubrik Security Cloud marks 'next frontier' in cybersecurity
"The next frontier in cybersecurity pairs the investments in infrastructure security with data security giving companies security from the point of data."
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.