Update: It appears that the Cryptonite website is no longer active, such is the rapidly changing nature of cybercrime. Please continue to check back on our blog for further cybercriminal updates.
In May 2017, the Internet was awash with ransomware panic over the release of WannaCry, with people wondering about the technical skills of the operators behind it and the irreparable damage it would have caused if it hadn’t been contained.
Fast forward to the present day and now a new ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) platform called Cryptonite plans to not only bring ransomware to the masses, but has the added benefit of reportedly being fully undetectable, requiring minimal user input, and most importantly, requiring no technical know-how.
Why Ransomware as a Service (RaaS)?
RaaS is nothing new, and Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest) has historically reported on the business model in a previous blog, Ransomware-as-a-service: The Business Case. What was true then is still very much valid now. The commercialization of ransomware attacks has continued, and extortion amounts have, on occasion, risen into the billions. With this increased exposure and the popularity of RaaS, threat actors are needing to differentiate their services from others. Such is the case with Cryptonite.
What is Cryptonite Ransomware as a Service?
Digital Shadows (now ReliaQuest) first became aware of the Cryptonite service on the popular English-language cybercriminal forum Torum in December 2019, where a user stated the RaaS platform had been live since November 2019. Ransomware connoisseurs may recognize the “Kryptonite” name as one belonging to a campaign dating back to 2017, but this bears no connections to the Cryptonite service. Instead, this looks like an expanding RaaS platform that is reaching out to the cybercriminal community to find additional suitors. Cryptonite has a professional design and a comprehensive payment structure; a clear attempt to differentiate themselves from their competitors. A solid user interface and customer support model can make all the difference in determining whether a RaaS offering will be popular or not.
Climbing the payment structure ladder
The service advertises three tiers of payment options to its customers (Regular, Gold, and Diamond) with both the ransom value attached (USD 395, USD 595 and USD 1295 respectively) and the customization of the ransomware increasing at each tier.
Cryptonite payment structure
The service is relatively immature in terms of the length of time it has been accessible, but its popularity has still taken off. Figures on their website boast 700+ happy customers to date, with over 20,000 devices reportedly infected.
Ryuk claim to fame
Cryptonite does claim to be based on the popular 2018 Ryuk ransomware source code which, interestingly, has largely been met by criticism from those doubting the team’s access to this malware variant. While it’s not possible to verify such claims, associating themselves with such a popular piece of ransomware can either encourage or deter potential customers, leading ultimately to the service flourishing or dying a quick death.
An example of a Ryuk Ransomware note
Will RaaS soar or coming crashing back down?
RaaS will continue to be a threat so long as an audience exists and ransom payments are made. Campaigns incorporating the use of ransomware are not only seeking financial gain anymore, but also are increasingly targeting the harvesting of data, and in some cases malicious blackmail. The different rewards that such a platform can provide is dependent on its customers’ needs and ultimately means there will always be general interest; whether a threat actor looking to make quick money, or a newbie branching out to test the use of ransomware.
Like most things, the platform’s existence lives and dies by its ability to earn both credibility and trust. Only time will tell if Cryptonite can earn both or if a lack of trust will be its own Kryptonite…
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