Latest Hacking Innovations: Gmail Control and Log File Theft

Some of the recent hacker innovations we described were ransomware becoming extortionware and a hacker affiliate program. Hackers have taken ransomware to the next level. Back in the good old days, they would encrypt the files on your network and only unlock them if you paid the ransom. Even if you paid, many times, the files were never unlocked.

Some companies got wise to the threat and installed business continuity disaster recovery solutions from companies like Norwalk, Connecticut based Datto.

This allowed them to avoid paying the ransom. Instead, they wiped their machines re-installed the operating system and restored from a good backup.

This upset hackers who amped their game.

By leaking data online, they coerce victims into paying the ransom. Even if they have backups. thus the term extortionware.

This led to the creation of affiliate programs where you don’t need to leak the info yourself, it is done through a website that handles it for you. You just have to get the malware onto the victim’s computer and collect the money which could be over a million dollars for a large customer.

Surprised at how big a number that is? Don’t be – in fact ransomware payments have increased by 33% since the pandemic began!

Hackers are getting creative but you haven’t seen anything yet.

Russia’s most advanced hackers have two new innovations. they download aintivirus log files from infected machines to inspect them to see if their malware has been detected. They also load a predefined cookie file. What this does is allow the machine to locally open Gmail to an account they know the address of. It then receives email to this address which is designed to do various things they want carried out.

Hackers have been able to control computers remotely for some time. If you have heard of DDoS or distributed denial of service attacks where many “zombie” devices are taken over and used to send lots of web traffic to a server to cause it to crash, you understand the concept.

By using Gmail, the hackers mask their traffic as something which appears harmless or undetectable by traditional antivirus or other cybersecurity software.

The bottom line is hackers are evolving – they always do. As long as it is easier to steal your money than it is to make money legitimately and there are few consequences, the problem will continue to escalate.

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