Ransomware-as-a-Service Program Offers Affiliates Up to 75 Percent of Revenue to Spread Infection

A ransomware-as-a-service program called FilesLocker is offering affiliates commissions of up to 75 percent on all revenue stolen from victims if they can drive enough traffic.

Details about FilesLocker were first posted on Twitter, but a subsequent investigation traced it to Chinese cybercrime forum on TOR, an anonymous online network. Written in C# and available in both Chinese and English, some of the features promoted in the forum include strong encryption, the ability to clear shadow volume copies and customization capabilities.

While FilesLocker is relatively unsophisticated in design, according to security researchers, it encrypts victims’ files through a private key, which is encrypted by an embedded public key. By scanning common system folders such as Documents and Pictures, the ransomware-as-a-service offering encrypts files with a .locked extension and then displays a note demanding 0.18 bitcoin as payment to a specific email address, along with an automatically generated victim ID for tracking purposes.

How Affiliates Qualify For FilesLocker Spoils

The developer behind FilesLocker stipulated that any interested affiliates should have a proven track record in distributing ransomware through phishing schemes or other methods, with a minimum of 10 infections a day. He or she also warned against uploading the program to any service that helps organizations automate the process of scanning for viruses and other security threats. While those who do particularly well can earn three-quarters of what’s gathered from victims, the program includes a base revenue share of 60 percent.

The practice of spreading ransomware through affiliates is becoming more common among cybercriminals. Back in August, for example, cybercriminals pitched a similar ransomware-as-a-service threat dubbed Princess Evolution to potential partners for the same 60 percent revenue share.

Containing Threats Like FilesLocker

While it’s common and natural to panic upon seeing a ransom note pop up on the screen, security leaders should train users to report such incidents as quickly as possible so they can minimize the potential spread of ransomware-as-a-service programs.

IBM Security’s “Ransomware Response Guide” advised security professionals to immediately disconnect any machine infected with ransomware from the corporate network, as well as any access to Wi-Fi or other services that could link back to the attacker.

Isolating a system can give the security team enough time to conduct a proper route cause analysis (RCA) to identify how the ransomware is being distributed, which may mean closing off email or other communication channels for at-risk employees. Since malware developers are starting to work as a team, their potential victims need to do the same.

Sources: BleepingComputer, Malware Hunter, Virus Total

Shane Schick

Writer & Editor

Shane Schick is a writer, editor and speaker who focuses on how information technology creates business value. He lives...