Ransomware Readiness

Modern ransomware attacks no longer simply encrypt data. Over the past few years, attackers have been focusing on double and triple extortion attacks that also include stealing data and holding it hostage until the victim pays the requested ransom. 

The evolving Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) business model has democratized these attacks, enabling sophisticated actors to deploy them. By understanding what RaaS is and how the business model works, organizations can implement comprehensive ransomware readiness security measures that mitigate risk of file leaks. Dark web monitoring to keep track of data leaks from ransomware blogs relevant to your organization (including third-party leaks) mitigate risk well. 

What Do You Get with Flare’s Ransomware Readiness Solution

How does Flare address ransomware readiness? 

Ransomware groups can gain access to organization’s environments through sensitive information in stealer logs sold on Genesis Market, Russian Market, and public/private Telegram groups. 

With automated monitoring across the clear & dark web, prioritized alerts, and autonomous remediation, Flare provides continuous monitoring of any revelation information to your organization that must be secured. This includes monitoring for stealer logs, especially those that contain specific access to RDP, VPN, and SSO credentials that could lead to a compromise. 

What are the key benefits of ransomware monitoring and readiness with Flare?

  • Monitor for external threat exposures automatically, comprehensively, and efficiently, allowing for significantly reduced time in remediating any (ransomware-related) risks
  • Contextualize and summarize threat actor activity so that your security team can act quicker 
  • Enable your security team to spend time and resources on other pressing issues as the platform will notify you of any risks to mitigate (while cutting out the noise)

Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) and Readiness: Brief Overview

What is ransomware-as-a-service?

Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) is a business model built similarly to the legitimate Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscription model that enables cybercriminals with minimal technical skills to launch ransomware attacks. RaaS lowers the criminal barrier to entry since sophisticated threat groups offer pre-developed ransomware tools and infrastructure, including ransomware variants and campaign management technologies. 

Typically, RaaS operates on an affiliate model, meaning ransomware developers and operators share the revenue received from ransom payments. The RaaS model consists of the following criminal stakeholders:

  • Operators: develop and manage the ransomware platform, providing infrastructure, encryption keys, and customer support to affiliates
  • Affiliates: execute the ransomware attacks leveraging various tools and resources purchased from the operators

What is the history of ransomware?

Ransomware’s history dates back to the late 1980s with the AIDS Trojan, but it gained significant prominence in the mid-2000s with the rise of cryptocurrencies and more sophisticated encryption methods. Over time, ransomware evolved from simple lock-screen demands to complex, network-disrupting threats. The introduction of RaaS in the 2010s further transformed the landscape, making it easier for attackers to launch sophisticated ransomware campaigns. 

In 2019, there was a fundamental shift in the ransomware landscape. Historically, ransomware attacks were mainly focused on disrupting IT infrastructure availability by encrypting systems and demanding ransom from the victims. However, 2019 marked the introduction of a novel approach when the Maze ransomware group started exfiltrating data before encrypting it. They then leveraged this stolen data to blackmail victims, threatening to publish sensitive information, thereby compromising not only the availability but also the confidentiality of the data. 

Learn more about data extortion ransomware in our research report: Data Extortion Ransomware and the Cybercrime Supply Chain: Key Trends in 2023.

How does the RaaS model work?

RaaS business models democratize the process of launching ransomware attacks. Similar to how legitimate companies can leverage SaaS applications to streamline business operations, threat actors now offer subscription-based ransomware models that enable criminals to deploy attacks easily. 

A few general business models exist:

  • Monthly Subscriptions: Affiliates pay a recurring monthly fee to access the platform and use its resources, keeping the entirety of the ransom paid.
  • License fees: Affiliates pay a one-time licensing fee to access the ransomware tools, keeping the entirety of the ransom paid.
  • Affiliate program: Affiliates receive a percentage of the ransoms that the victims pay.

In return for payment, the affiliates receive:

  • Technologies necessary to deploy attacks
  • Customer support services
  • Online communities for sharing knowledge and experiences
  • Access to documentation and tutorials for how to deploy the ransomware
  • Feature updates 

Where do threat actors sell RaaS models?

RaaS models use dark web forums, marketplaces, and Telegram channels to sell their technologies, giving criminals a way to remain anonymous. These tactics create challenges for security teams and law enforcement agencies trying to identify and trace the perpetrators.

What is Ransomware Readiness?

What is the definition of ransomware readiness?

Ransomware readiness encompasses the strategies, practices, and technological solutions employed to avert ransomware attacks on an organization’s digital assets. It involves a multi-layered approach that includes deploying security software to detect and block malicious activities, implementing robust data backup and recovery plans, and conducting regular security awareness training for employees. 

The goal of ransomware readiness is to not only protect against ransomware infections but also to minimize the potential impact should an attack occur, ensuring business continuity and data integrity.

What are challenges to ransomware readiness?

Challenges to effective ransomware readiness include the rapidly evolving nature of ransomware attacks, which constantly adapt to bypass existing security measures. Organizations face the task of keeping their security protocols up to date against these ever-changing threats. Another significant challenge is ensuring complete organizational compliance and awareness, as human error often leads to successful ransomware infiltrations. 

Additionally, managing the complexity of securing diverse and dispersed IT environments, especially with the increasing adoption of cloud services and remote work, adds to the difficulty in implementing comprehensive ransomware defense strategies.

Furthermore, third-party vendors that have access to your organization’s sensitive information can be a target for ransomware groups, and must be monitored for too. 

What are the different ransomware readiness approaches to RaaS versus traditional ransomware?

With traditional ransomware, threat actors developed and deployed malicious code that they wrote, meaning that they had the necessary technical experience and toolset. However, with RaaS, the people deploying the malicious code simply purchase it from other threat actors. This transforms the threat landscape in several ways.


The people developing attacks are not always the people deploying them. While the number of skilled RaaS operators may remain smaller, the number of less-skilled affiliates deploying attacks expands exponentially. With new types of perpetrators, more ransomware attacks can be deployed overall.


Under a RaaS model, operators offer pre-built, user-friendly ransomware packages and services. Not only are the attackers less sophisticated, but they can also easily access these technologies. With easier access, more cybercriminals enter the market, increasing ransomware volume and expanding its scale. 

Distribution and Reach

Since attackers no longer need to develop ransomware and deploy attacks alone, the malicious code and infrastructure can be distributed to more malicious actors. Since the original ransomware developers can reach more people and make more money, it creates a business cycle to support greater revenue for the operators. 

Innovation and Variants

Since the affiliates do the deployment, the operators can spend more time focusing on developing new variants. As they iterate the ransomware code, it becomes harder for organizational security tools to detect, especially ones that look for known signatures. 

Overall, the RaaS model is smoother and more scalable than with traditional ransomware, which makes readiness more difficult. However, better understanding these differences can help finetune monitoring practices.

What are the benefits of (automated) ransomware readiness?

Automated ransomware readiness offers several benefits: it provides real-time, continuous monitoring and response, reducing the time to detect and mitigate attacks. Automation can also handle large volumes of data and security alerts more efficiently than manual processes, enabling quicker isolation of threats.

In addition, it can reduce the workload on cybersecurity teams, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks, and improve overall security posture through consistent and thorough application of readiness measures.

What tools can you use for ransomware readiness? 

Automated security tools like Flare can help in proactively monitoring activity among ransomware cybercrime groups and leaks related to successful ransomware attacks.

Other tools for ransomware readiness include advanced antivirus and anti-malware software, firewalls, email filtering solutions, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems. Network segmentation tools and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are also vital. 

What are best practices for ransomware readiness?

RaaS models are unfortunately here to stay primarily because the operators receive a better return on their time and skill investments. As long as affiliates are willing to pay the fees, operators will continue to focus on iterating their malware. For organizations to protect themselves and their customers, they need a multi-pronged approach.

Train Employees

By providing employees with cybersecurity awareness training, you can mitigate risks because most RaaS attacks start with phishing or social engineering attacks. As part of your security awareness education program, you should include the following:

  • What RaaS is
  • Why attackers target your organization’s sensitive data
  • How to identify phishing emails or other social engineering tactics

For example, you may want to provide employees with an example of a phishing email that RaaS affiliates use so that they know what to look for. Since RaaS affiliates purchase pre-made campaigns, the emails and methods are similar across all cybercriminals working with a particular operator. 

Regularly Update Software and Operating Systems

RaaS attacks target known vulnerabilities in software and operating systems as a way to gain unauthorized access to systems and networks so cyber criminals can exfiltrate data. To mitigate risks, organizations should:

  • Implement vulnerability and patch management programs
  • Scan networks for at-risk devices
  • Use threat intelligence to identify vulnerabilities that attackers actively exploit in the real world
  • Prioritize remediation for users, devices, and software accessing sensitive data

Implement Business Interruption and Disaster Recovery Plans

Since RaaS attacks still encrypt data, the organization’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans should identify ways to mitigate the impact. At a minimum, an organization should backup all data off-site, in the cloud, and away from the primary network. 

Monitor the Dark Web and Illicit Telegram Channels

Although cybercriminals sometimes use the clear web to manage transactions, they typically use the dark web and illicit Telegram channels for communication and transactions. By monitoring the dark web, organizations gain insights into:

  • Stolen user credentials
  • Targeted threats
  • Compromised devices
  • New ransomware variants and operator activities

By operationalizing this monitoring, organizations can take proactive preventative actions to mitigate the risks arising from RaaS models. 

Ransomware Readiness and Flare

The Flare Threat Exposure Management (TEM) solution empowers organizations to proactively detect, prioritize, and mitigate the types of (third-party) exposures commonly exploited by threat actors. Our platform automatically and constantly scans the clear & dark web and illicit Telegram channels to discover unknown events, automatically prioritize risks, and deliver actionable intelligence you can use instantly to improve security.

With Flare Supply Chain Ransomware Exposure Monitoring, gain unique visibility and proactive security across your extended supply chain to efficiently mitigate threat exposures that exist within ransomware data leaks. Learn more by signing up for our free trial.

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