Ransomware is becoming a more prevalent conversation topic among experts in the cyber security industry. Experts are working vigorously in an attempt to stay ahead of criminals who are using it to monetize and ultimately fund their growing operations. The majority of ransomware attacks have been used to encrypt company’s data or just plain lock out intended users from accessing their own systems. This leads to severe consequences for many organizations and can cripple a business, or in some cases have life threatening implications.
Once these malicious attackers have executed their ransomware attack they reach out to the victim for compensation to re-gain access to their own systems often by Bitcoin to maintain anonymity. This recently occurred with a healthcare provider in Los Angeles where a hacker took control of their network and eventually were compensated by Bitcoin to the tune of $17,000 to regain control of their own network.
According to Forbes, the Locky ransomware was infecting an estimated 90,000 systems per day in February 2016. The attackers usually demanded 0.5-1 Bitcoin (~$400) to decrypt victim systems. Depending on the scenario the best option might be to pay the ransom, if the opportunity cost of the business being down outweighs the price of the ransom. This ultimately perpetuates the problem because it is proving effective.
The FBI estimates that ransomware will net criminals a staggering $1 Billion in 2016. With the success hackers are having in the enterprise they are starting to test the waters in the consumer environment. There have already been early accounts of Internet of Things (IoT) users being targeted in their own homes.
For instance, at DEFCON 24 researchers demonstrated a ransomware attack on a smart thermostat that could lock the temperature to either extreme and or fluctuate the temperature in an effort to increase your energy bill. This was followed up by a demand of payment in a small Bitcoin amount. One may think it isn’t a big deal and you can just unplug it right? Sure, however this renders your new smart thermostat unusable. You also now have inconvenience and added cost of having to replace the current unit. It really is just the tip of the iceberg foreshadowing what is to come, if security is taken too lightly.
Cyber criminals are getting more organized and efficient. They are using automated scanning tools to discover vulnerable devices and or using search engines such as Shodan.io to find specific devices to target for their attacks. This enables them to execute their attacks at a large scale and play the numbers game to net themselves as many Bitcoin paydays as possible.
ZitoVault’s mission is safeguarding the IoT and we have been paying close attention to ransomware and emerging cyber threats. We’re building a cloud-based enterprise-grade security solution to contain advanced attacks before they wreak havoc in businesses, homes, and environments deploying where IoT devices. The ZitoVault software agent also known as CryptoMan activates the service for customers, and enables them to benefit from the deep security protections implemented in the ZitoVault cloud.
CryptoMan and the ZitoVault cloud enable customers to securely connect their IoT devices to the cloud, gain 24×7 visibility of the security postures of their devices, detect very early on if a cyber attack is being mounted, and automatically take steps to contain the attack on behalf of customers.
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