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October 17, 2019updated 18 Oct 2019 9:14am

The Top 10 Ransomware Types Hitting Businesses in 2019

Ransomware still a hacker favourite

By CBR Staff Writer

The ransomware landscape in 2019 has remained alarmingly lively, with hackers continuing to see value in targeting enterprises, public bodies and governments – sometimes with targeted, sometimes spray-and-pray approaches. Now, analysis by Zealand-based anti-malware firm Emisoft has revealed of 230,000 incidents between April 1 and September 30, 2019 reveals the top 10 ransomware strains to look out for.


The STOP ransomware strain, also known as DJVU, has been submitted to the ID Ransomware tool over 75,000 times, which only represent a sliver of the systems it may have affected worldwide.

STOP affects the systems of home users and can be easily picked up by downloading unsecure files from torrent sites. Once the infection begins the STOP malware will use the AES-256 encryption to lock the system files, followed by a payment demand issued to the user. It is by far the most common submission to ID Ransomware as it accounts for 56 percent of all submissions.

2 Dharma

The Dharma variant not only will lock a system, but it will instruct the victim to contact a specific email where they are expected to negotiate the release of their files. Dharma is a cryptovirus which is pushed onto system via malicious download links and email hyperlinks.

Operating in the threat landscape since 2016, Dharma is part of the .cezar family. It mainly targets enterprise targets. Dharma accounted for 12 percent of submissions.

3 Phobos

Ransomware 2019

Credit: Luca Ruegg via Unsplash

Phobos, either named after the Martian moon or its namesake the Greek god of fear, is a ransomware variant that makes up 8.9 percent of all submissions.

It is mainly spread via exploits of insufficiently secured Remote Desktop Protocol ports. Phobos has been seen in the wild attacking corporations and public bodies indiscriminately. In a similar manner to Dharma this ransomware locks your files and then request you contact the attacker directly to negotiate their release.

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4 GlobeImposter

GlobeImposter makes up 6.5 percent of all submissions to the ID Ransomware tool. GlobeImposter is the next evolution on pervious strains of the variant. What makes it different is it uses AES-256 cryptography to encrypt a victim’s files before it issues a bitcoin payment demand.

5 REvil

REvil also known as Sodinokibi was first discovered in 2019 and security research believe that it was developed by the same threat actors who created GandCrab.

Emsisoft notes that Sodinokibi is seen as a “Ransomware-as-a-service that relies on affiliates to distribute and market the ransomware. It is extremely evasive and uses advanced techniques to avoid being detected by security software.”

The attack vectors for this variant include exploiting a vulnerability in Oracle WebLogic and more traditional methods such as phishing campaigns. It makes up 4.5 percent of submissions.

The ransomware 2019 threat landscape is woefully vibrant as hackers continues to see value in targeting enterprises, public bodies and governments.

Countries most affected by ransomware Credit: Emsisoft

6 GandCrab

According to Europol the GandCrab ransomware variant has infected nearly half a million victim systems since it was first detected at the start of 2018. It accounts for 3.6 percent of submissions.

The GandCrab virus infects and encrypts all the files within a user’s systems. Originally the ransomware was distributed via exploit kits such as RIG EK and GrandSoft EK. Cybersecurity company Bitdefender has created a useful decrypting tool to help mitigate GandCarb lock-outs.

7 Magniber

Magniber has been around in one form or another since 2013, but it still accounts for 3.3 percent of submissions.

Cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes have been tracking this variant for some time and noticed that it is continually evolving. In one of the latest version they state that: “Each file is encrypted with a unique key—the same plaintext gives a different ciphertext. The encrypted content has no patterns visible. That suggests that a stream cipher or a cipher with chained blocks was used (probably AES in CBC mode).”

8 Scarab

Ransomware 2019

Credit: Timothy Dykes via Unsplash

The Scarab ransomware was first discovered in June 2017. The malicious software uses the encryption algorithms AES-256 and RSA-2048 to lock the files on a targeted system. It makes up 2.0 percent of submissions.

Cyber security firm Symantec notes that: “Many of Scarab’s campaigns focus on distributing the group’s custom malware (Trojan.Scieron and Trojan.Scieron.B) through emails with malicious attachments. These files contain exploits that take advantage of older vulnerabilities that are already patched by vendors. If the attackers successfully compromise the victims’ computers, then they use a basic back door threat called Trojan.Scieron to drop Trojan.Scieron.B onto the computer.”

9 Rapid

Rapid accounts for 1.8 percent of submissions. It is a ransomware that acts as a trojan horse to encrypted files and then demand a ransom.

Rapid busted onto the scene in 2018. When it infects a systems it will remove all of the Windows shadow volume copies stop all database processes and take automatic repair offline. Once files are encrypted like the others it will issues a ransom demand.

10 Troldesh

Troldesh also known as Shade accounts for 1.4 percent of submissions. Troldesh is a Trojan horse that locks files in a system via an encryption method. The malware has been around since 2014, but is still used in many active ransomware campaigns.

Malwarebytes followed one such campaign and noted that: “Spread by malspam—specifically malicious email attachments. The attachments are usually zip files presented to the receiver as something he “has to” open quickly. The extracted zip is a Javascript that downloads the malicious payload (aka the ransomware itself). The payload is often hosted on sites with a compromised Content Management System (CMS).”

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