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9/26/2019
09:30 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
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Enterprise Ransomware & Consumer Ransomware: They're Not That Different

RiskSense researchers identified 57 vulnerabilities that are heavily tied to ransomware threats in enterprises and government organizations as opposed to individuals.

RiskSense has announced the results of the RiskSense Spotlight Report for Enterprise Ransomware. The report analyzes the most common vulnerabilities used across multiple families of ransomware targeting enterprises and government organizations.

RiskSense researchers identified 57 vulnerabilities that are heavily tied to ransomware threats in enterprises and government organizations as opposed to individuals. The data was gathered from a variety of sources including RiskSense proprietary data, publicly available threat databases, as well as other findings from RiskSense threat researchers and penetration testers.

The report found that 65% of ransomware was targeting high-value assets like servers. Surprisingly, close to 55% of the ransomware had CVSS v2 scores lower than 8, which means they were judged to be less than "high" or "critical." Also, nearly 35% of the identified vulnerabilities are from 2015 or earlier, and the vulnerabilities used by WannaCry are still in use today.

RiskSense thinks that ransomware cost businesses more than $8 billion in 2018.

"While consumer ransomware targets Windows and Adobe vulnerabilities, enterprise ransomware targets high-value assets like servers, application infrastructure, and collaboration tools since they contain an organization’s critical business data," said Srinivas Mukkamala, CEO of RiskSense. "While not totally unexpected, the fact that older vulnerabilities and those with lower severity scores are being exploited by ransomware illustrates how easy it is for organizations to miss important vulnerabilities if they lack real-world threat context."

Twenty-four of the 30 "CVSS less than 8" vulnerabilities were loose in the wild. An organization that uses CVSS scores as its exclusive means to prioritize vulnerabilities for patching is sure to miss vulnerabilities that are used by ransomware.

Fifteen of the 57 noted vulnerabilities were in use by multiple families of enterprise ransomware. Since the same code is often reused in multiple products, 17 trending vulnerabilities with active exploits in the wild affected more than one technology vendor. The 57 vulnerabilities are spread across 12 vendors, which likewise were tied to 33 different products. Microsoft had by far the most vulnerabilities with 27, followed by RedHat (six), Adobe (five), Oracle (five) and Apache (four).

The report found that vulnerabilities from as far back as 2010 continue to be active with ransomware in the wild. In total, 31.5% of the analyzed vulnerabilities were from 2015 or earlier (18 out of 57), and 16 of those vulnerabilities continue to be trending in 2018 or 2019.

One universal characteristic of the vulnerabilities analyzed in the dataset was the enabling of remote code execution (RCE) or privilege escalation (PE). These traits should be considered important indicators when considering the prioritizing of patching efforts. Ransomware families may use multiple vulnerabilities in their efforts. Cerber was found to incorporate the most, using a total of 17 vulnerabilities, 16 of which are trending. Grandcrab was next with 11 vulnerabilities, nine trending. Both the SamSam and Satan malware tied with nine vulnerabilities, all of which were trending. PrincessLocker, which runs as a Ransomware-as-a-Service campaign and is tightly associated with the RIG exploit kit, had seven vulnerabilities.

It's important to recall that Server Message Block (SMB) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) exploits have played a big role in the evolution of ransomware.The wormable nature of the SMB-based Eternal Blue vulnerability allowed an attacker to easily spread from host to host, infect additional devices, and move laterally within a network. The report shows that real-world outcomes should be part of any security response, especially when ransomware is considered.

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

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