Ransomware Groups Turn into Cartels

As the Maze ransomware group continues to hit new targets like banks and defense contractors, among many others, those companies, in many cases, decide to restore their systems from backups and not pay the ransom.

So Maze decided to nuance their crime and steal (or exfiltrate) the data before encrypting it. That way, if the companies didn’t pay, they would start leaking the data, like water torture, drip by drip.

In some cases that is still not working, so in an effort to make money, they are auctioning the stolen data to the highest bidder.

As if this wasn’t incentive enough for businesses to increase their cybersecurity measures, the Maze group has now become a cartel.

In the full tradition of the drug cartels, they are affiliating with competitors and sharing infrastructure for a fee.

Last week the ransomware group LockBit joined the Maze cartel.

This week, it appears that Ragner Locker joined the cartel.

This means that those groups can likely use Maze’s auction site to auction off data that they have stolen. What other technology and facilities they are sharing is unknown.

And these ransoms are getting more expensive.

Florence Alabama (population 40,000) agreed to pay a NEGOTIATED ransom of ONLY $291,000 to get control back of their systems.

When big companies like Honda “pauses” production and shuts down their offices due to a ransomware attack like they did this week, they will definitely feel the pain but can afford to pay the millions that it will cost to pay the ransom, if needed, and recover control of their systems.

But most companies are not Honda. Even if it costs them a few tens of thousands of dollars, and many times it costs more, that hurts. A lot. And if they have to pay the ransom to stop they stolen data from being published or sold, that hurts more.

Not to mention the potential lawsuits and disgruntled customers leaving while expressing their displeasure on social media. What does that cost?

So, bottom line, even though no one likes to spend money, this is a case of spend it now or spend more – probably a lot more – later.

Are you confident that your systems are safe? Why do you think that? I am sure that Florence and Honda thought they were safe. Credit: SC Magazine

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