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Modern Ransomware’s Double Extortion Tactics and How to Protect Enterprises Against Them

Ransomware actors have been a persistent threat for years, but they are still evolving. The wide adoption of advanced cybersecurity technologies and improved ransomware response processes has limited the success of traditional ransomware attacks. Upgraded security has forced these cybercriminals to evolve their strategies, and has paved the way for what we now call modern ransomware attacks.

What does a modern ransomware attack look like?

Modern ransomware actors identify and target valuable data, often exfiltrating it from a victim’s network organization rather than simply encrypting it. This gives them another avenue for extortion: if a victim does not pay the ransom, the attacker can threaten to publicize the private data. For enterprises holding intellectual property data, proprietary information, private employee data, and customer data, this is a serious concern. Any data leak will come with regulatory penalties, lawsuits, and reputational damage.

Another significant feature of modern ransomware is that the actors are more precise and involved in the attack. They take over networks in multiple human-supervised stages, veering away from click-on-the-link automatic events. They also spend significant time conquering different parts of the victim’s network (a process that may take weeks or months) before they execute the ransomware payload, making such attacks look more like nation-state advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks instead of traditional ransomware incidents.

This report discusses the differences between modern ransomware and traditional attacks, and also offers a look into the new ransomware business model using the Nefilim ransomware as a case study.

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