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Cerber Ransomware – Business Model for Extortion

cerber ransomware

Cerber ransomware earned close to $200,000 in July alone, despite a payment rate of 0.3 percent (not even 1 percent!), due to its affiliate distribution model, according to Check Point Software technologies Ltd.and IntSights Cyber Intelligence.

If this rate were to continue, without increasing, that would mean a $2.3 million payout over the course of the year, said Maya Horowitz, group manager of threat intelligence at Check Point.

An affiliate model means that non-technical customers can run their own campaigns using the platform and still walk away with 60 percent of the profit. Customers receive access to management rools, Cerber’s Bitcoin laundering system, and of course, the Cerber ransomware. Horowitz reports that each day an average of eight new cerber ransomware campaigns are launched, adding to the over 150 affiliates.

Another “brand name” ransomware commonly seen today is Locky. Locky differs greatly from Cerber in that Locky is run by one solo team of threat artists, with all proceeds directly going to this team as they do not share their malware with any other parties. Cerber is acting as a business model, taking ransomware to a new level and allowing anyone to join in on the cyber crime cash cow. Not only does Cerber allow user to gain a 60 percent cut, but they also offer a 5 percent referral bonus for member that recruit. This is most certainly the future of malware, with more services to follow this model.

This is one of the first times that security researchers have been able to follow the trail. By extracting the unique Bitcoin wallet identifiers assigned to each victim, Check Point was able to follow the money trail to the central wallet, then to a network of other wallets that are apart of the Bitcoin mixing service, and then to the final destinations. Hundreds of thousands of wallets were followed, which allowed Check Point to actually see the payment rate of people who paid the Bitcoin ransom.

Surprising to most, the number was a very small 0.3 percent. In comparison to other ransomware reports, this percent is much lower. However, this number has been able to foster a hefty income.

 


 

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