Over the last few years, technology has moved ahead immensely, and alongside so has the ways cybercriminals distribute malware and ransomware since the older, now common, methods no longer work. Till some time ago, cybercriminals would use encrypted files to spread ransomware on a large scale, now ransomware attacks have become more focused. Nowadays, cybercriminals and hackers examine their targets in detail and do their research so as they can gain additional leverage. Ransomware gangs behave like fully-fledged online service providers and use traditional marketing techniques. Experts at Kaspersky have identified five examples of how these ransomware distribution methods, and how they work, have altered by studying the Darkside ransomware gang as an example.
1. Darkside actively establishes contact with the press.
On the Darkside website, there’s a semblance of a press center set up to enable journalists to ask questions and receive first-hand information, and to learn about upcoming publications of stolen information in advance. In fact, DarkSide operators strive to get as much resonance in the networks as possible.
2. Ransomware groups collaborate with decryption companies.
As the Kaspersky report points out, this is evident because many state-owned companies are prohibited from entering negotiations with cybercriminals. This has created a demand for intermediaries like decryption companies, who provide legitimate data decryption services.
3. Darkside claims to donate part of their income to charity.
They show those who do not want to finance crime, that some of their money will go to a good cause. However, some charities are prohibited from accepting illicit money, and such payments would be frozen.
4. The cybercriminals now carefully analyze stolen data and the market.
Before publishing information, they study the contacts of the company and identify well-known customers, partners, and competitors. Kaspersky experts state that the main purpose of this is to maximise target damage, to intimidate victims, and to increase the chances of getting a ransom.
5. The Darkside ransomware gang now has its own code of ethics.
There’s honour among criminals, just like in real enterprises….