OpenText Cybersecurity Nastiest Malware of 2023 Shows Ransomware-as-a-Service Now Primary Business Model
October 2023 by OpenText
OpenText announced the Nastiest Malware of 2023, an annual ranking of the year’s biggest malware threats. For six consecutive years OpenText Cybersecurity threat intelligence experts have analyzed the threat landscape to determine the most notorious malware trends. Ransomware has been rapidly ascending the ranks, with ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) now the weapon of choice for cybercriminals.
This year four new ransomware gangs, believed to be the next generation of previous big players, topped the list. Newcomer Cl0p takes the prize for this year’s nastiest malware after commanding exorbitant ransom demands with its MOVEit campaign. Cl0p’s efforts helped skyrocket the average ransom payment which is rapidly approaching three quarters of a million dollars. Black Cat, Akira, Royal, Black Basta also made their debut, joined by the always present, Lockbit.
“A key finding this year is the RaaS business model is another win for the bad guys. Profit sharing and risk mitigation are top contributors to RaaS success along with the ability to easily evade authorities,” said Muhi Majzoub, EVP and Chief Product Officer, OpenText. “There is a silver lining as research shows only 29% of businesses pay ransom, an all-time low. These numbers indicate people are taking threats seriously and investing in security to be in a position where they do not need to pay ransom.”
This year’s list highlights the tenacity of cybercriminals as they continue to reinvent themselves, coming back stronger each time (often with new names). Their scrappy mentality allows them to go beyond the norm to find new ways to invade their target.
2023 Nastiest Malware
1. Cl0p, a RaaS platform, became famous following a series of cyberattacks, exploited a zero-day vulnerability in the MOVEit Transfer file software developed by Progress Software. MOVEit victims include such notable organizations as Shell, BBC, and the United States Department of Energy.
2. Black Cat, recognized in our 2021 Nastiest Malware report, believed to be the successor to REvil ransomware group, has built their RaaS platform on the Rust programming language. They made headlines for taking down MGM Casino Resorts.
3. Akira, presumed to be a descendant of Conti, primarily targets small to medium sized businesses due to the ease and turnaround time. Most notably, Akira ransomware targeted Cisco VPN products as an attack vector to breach corporate networks, steal, and eventually encrypt data.
4. Royal, suspected heir to Ryuk, uses Whitehat penetration testing tools to move laterally in an environment to gain control of the entire network. Helping aid in deception is their unique partial encryption approach that allows the threat actor to choose a specific percentage of data in a file to encrypt.
5. Lockbit 3.0, a main stain on the list and last year’s winner, continues to wreak havoc. Now in its third epoch, Lockbit 3.0 is more modular and evasive than its predecessors.
6. Black Basta is one of the most active RaaS threat actors and is also considered to be yet another descendant of the Conti ransomware group. They have gained a reputation for targeting all types of industries indiscriminately.