The rise of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) has allowed cybercriminals new levels of power and sophistication in their digital attacks. No longer must a cyber attacker learn the complex skills of coding and networking to gain access to the valuable data they want and need; instead, they can take build an entirely new virus off the back of an existing and demonstrably effective ransomware tool.
Unfortunately, RaaS has already produced some devastating super-threats that have caused excessive amounts of damage in 2023 alone. Here are the latest and most frightening viruses to be found on the web — and what you can do to avoid them.
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Performing its first attacks in March but demonstrating its full strength later in the spring, Mindware is a ransomware that launches double extortion attacks, meaning that before the virus encrypts a user’s files, it copies them and sends them to the cybercriminal behind the attacks. Then, the attacker has two forms of leverage to use against victims to extract ransoms: They can offer the encryption key to free a victim’s device, or they can threaten to release a victim’s sensitive information to the web at large.
Some experts believe that Mindware is merely a rebrand of an older and more familiar ransomware, called SFile, and indeed, the two operate in a similar manner. Both viruses tend to inject themselves onto users’ devices in the same way, and both types of ransomware proceed to check users’ systems and initiate encryption with identical sequences. What’s more, both SFile and
Mindware tend to target businesses in manufacturing, mechanical and automobile sectors.
If Mindware is merely a new name for an old ransomware, then high-quality antivirus software should be enough to protect the average user from harm. If new variants of Mindware emerge, you may want to upgrade your antivirus and execute greater caution when clicking on links in emails and other online messages where the ransomware may be hiding.
2. Black Basta
Black Basta originally appeared as another double-extortion ransomware, which replaces a victim’s Desktop Wallpaper and fully or partially encrypts all files it finds, replacing their extensions with .basta. The malware is highly targeted, deployed only against specific high-profile victims that have high budgets and exceedingly valuable information and thus are likely to pay multi-million-dollar ransoms.
While Black Basta was originally thought to be merely another new ransomware for web users to dodge, over time it has become clear that Black Basta — or BlackBasta — is actually an entire criminal enterprise, both a ransomware operator and an RaaS provider, that has rapidly become among the most active threat actors in the world.
In just its first few months of operation, Black Basta managed to infiltrate 19 prominent enterprise victims amongst its more than 100 confirmed victims total, from countries around the world.
Experts believe that Black Basta is primarily composed of members from the now-defunct Conti hacking group, as the two share many similarities in their approach to developing and deploying malware as well as communicating with victims. This means that Black Basta is likely a Russian group, so any information they gain from victims could be funneled into the Kremlin.
One of the newest strains of ransomware, Onyx was originally believed to be a rudimentary wiper, which is a variety of ransomware that simply deletes files rather than hiding or encrypting them. However, as new updates to Onyx have emerged, it seems that the wiping of certain file sizes was an accidental bug, and now, Onyx operates with razor-sharp precision.
Like Mindware, some experts believe Onyx to be a rebrand or at least a variation of the CONTI Ransomware, developed by the Conti hacking group that has now evolved into Black Basta. Indeed, many aspects of CONTI are replicated in Onyx, most notably the ransom note that appears on victims’ screens after their files have been encrypted.
While much of the new ransomware created today targets small and large businesses, which tend to have more data and higher budgets to spend on ransoms, Onyx is floating around the web for anyone to encounter. Therefore, it is imperative that you have advanced antivirus solutions installed on your devices to help you identify potentially malicious links and recover from infections with greater speed.
New viruses emerge every day, but not all of them are so devastating as the ones listed above. By knowing a bit more about the worst malware on the web, you can take action to keep yourself, your data and your devices safer.