‘Ransomware to get even worse now’

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As if holding your data hostage and seeking cash payment weren’t harsh enough, security experts foresee the next stage of ransomware to be even worse.

Corey Nachreiner, CTO at WatchGuard Technologies, predicts that 2017 will see the first ever ransomworm, causing ransomware to spread even faster.

“In short, bad guys realize ransomware makes money, and you can expect them to double down in 2017,” he says.

Earlier this year, Microsoft warned of a ransomworm called ZCryptor that propagated onto removable drives. By placing a code on every USB drive, employees bring more than just their presentations to a sales meeting; they’re carrying a ransomworm — not the greatest impression you want to give a prospect.

Alex Vaystikh, cybersecurity veteran and co-founder/CTO of advanced threat detection software provider SecBI, thinks along those same lines. He says ransomware will become smarter and merge with information-stealing malware, which will first steal information and then selectively encrypt, either on-demand or when other goals have been achieved or found to be unachievable. Although ransomware is an extremely fast way to get paid as a fraudster/hacker, if you are also able to first steal some information before you encrypt the device, you can essentially hack it twice.

Vaystikh also forsees the first cloud data center-focused ransomware. In 2017, ransomware will target databases, causing significant downtime. There are not currently many hackers attacking corporate networks with ransomware; information-stealing malware is the preferred tool, he says.

“But what we might see in the coming year is ransomware targeting places where there is less chance of backup files being available. For example, I think we’ll see that SMBs who move their files to the cloud generally do not have backups and do not know how to recover. Specifically encrypting cloud-based data like this would have a significant impact on cloud providers and cloud infrastructures,” he says.

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