Ransom

Want to make some money? Try the ransom ware racket. It’s booming

The black market economy fueling ransomware distribution is booming, according to new research.

wannacryIn an October report, researchers at anti-malware service Carbon Black identified a 2,502 percent increase in ransomware software sales from 2016 to 2017. The study involved monitoring 21 of the top dark web marketplaces. The data gathered was then extrapolated to produce estimates for the more than 6,300 estimated marketplaces currently offering ransomware.

The 2,502 percent increase in sales translates to roughly $6.2 million in sales, up from the year’s previous total of about $250,000.

While the total isn’t much to look at, the reported growth is nevertheless impressive—if not foreboding. The researchers note that it’s spurred by an increase in supply and demand: “Cybercriminals are increasingly seeing opportunities to enter the market and looking to make a quick buck via one of the many ransomware offerings available via illicit economies,” the study says.

The expanding ransomware market is made possible not only by tools making the anonymization of commerce simple—Bitcoin and Tor, to name two—but also by the proliferation of ransomware services making it easy for nearly anyone to launch their own illicit startup. “As a result of the maturity with these innovations, the underground ransomware economy is now an industry that resembles commercial software—complete with development, support, distribution, quality assurance, and even help desks.”

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