H1 2022 Saw Over 10,600 New Ransomware Strains Despite Bearish Crypto Markets

CryptoMode CyrusOne Ransomware Maze No More Ransom

Ransomware has been a pressing problem for companies and brands worldwide. Even a collapsing crypto market isn’t slowing down the number of threats. New malware variants continue to pop up weekly, creating many new concerns for 2023. 

More Ransomware Variants

The last thing the world needs is more forms of malware threatening crucial systems and infrastructure. Unfortunately, three new key variants have been identified: ScareCrow, AESRT, and Vohuk. They primarily seek out Windows systems globally and prove rather effective at encrypting data on affected systems. It is unclear how these new forks are distributed, making them significant threats. 

Contrary to what people expected, ransomware has become more prolific in 2022. New variants increased by roughly 100% in H1 2022, with over 10,600 strains found in the wild. Of course, not all of these are successful or remain present for long, but it confirms criminals continue to explore new opportunities. Part of the growth comes from more prominent ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) solutions. 

Although these three new versions don’t offer big bells and whistles, they are potent. Vohuk is in active development and has received at least two medium-sized code upgrades in recent months. ScareCrow takes a similar path, although it is still being determined if developers still update the code. For AESRT, the focus is on traditional concepts, including a pop-up window to make payments. 

With so many new variants hitting the market, it is evident the threat won’t go away. Ransomware remains a pressing problem that companies need to be aware of. However, consumers must do their part to keep their systems safe, too. Protecting against malware is a 24/7 job, and criminals will not relent in 2023. If anything, it is plausible to assume they will step up their actions even further. 

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Crypto Price Crash Has No Effect

Many people associate ransomware with cryptocurrencies. Criminals often demand a payment in Bitcoin or Monero to help users decrypt their locked files. As such, one would expect fewer ransomware attempts due to falling crypto prices. Interestingly, those industries do not seem correlated in 2022, which could prove problematic moving forward. Lower prices for Bitcoin, Monero, and other assets do not seem to matter to criminals distributing this malware. 

That said, there is a lower number of attacks during specific periods. For example, it is unclear why criminals would rely less on ransomware in May and June compared to other months. There were some crypto market movements at the time, although today’s prices are much lower than then. A more likely explanation is the shutdown of Conti RaaS services and perhaps the war in Ukraine. 

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