Ransomware Products, Services Ads on Dark Web Show Clues to Danger

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Why is ransomware’s destructive potential so daunting? Some clues are in the “for sale” ads. In an examination of some 35 million dark web URLs, a provider of machine identity management and a forensic specialist found some 475 web pages peddling sophisticated ransomware products and services with a number of high profile crews hawking ransomware-as-a-service.

The work is a joint effort between the Salt Lake City-based Venafi and Forensic Pathways, which took place between November 2021 and March 2022. Researchers used Forensic’s Dark Search Engine to carry out the investigation.

30 Different Brands of Ransomware Identified

Here are some of the research findings:

  • 87% of the ransomware found on the dark web has been delivered via malicious macros to infect targeted systems.
  • 30 different “brands” of ransomware were identified within marketplace listings and forum discussions.
  • Many strains of ransomware being sold — such as Babuk, GoldenEye, Darkside/BlackCat, Egregor, HiddenTear and WannaCry — have been successfully used in high-profile attacks.
  • Ransomware strains used in high-profile attacks command a higher price for associated services. For example, the most expensive listing was $1,262 for a customized version of Darkside ransomware, which was used in the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.
  • Source code listings for well-known ransomware generally command higher price points. For example, Babuk source code is listed for $950 and Paradise source code is selling for $593.

Ransomware Sold for as Little as $1

In addition to a variety of ransomware at various price points, a wide range of services and tools that help make it easier for attackers with minimal technical skills to launch ransomware attacks are for sale on the dark web, Venafi said. Services with the greatest number of listings include those offering source code, build services, custom development services and ransomware packages that include step-by-step tutorials.

Generic ransomware build services also command high prices, with some listings costing more than $900. Many low-cost ransomware options are available across multiple listings, with prices starting at about $1 for Lockscreen ransomware.

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