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4/19/2016
03:00 PM
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Creepy New Ransomware Riffs Off Popular Horror Film

JIGSAW locks, threatens, and deletes files if you don't pay the ransom within 24 hours.

The first thing the victim sees is the creepy image of Billy the puppet from the horror film “Saw” on their computer screen, warning them that they have 24 hours to pay up or their now-encrypted files will be deleted:

Source: Trend Micro
Source: Trend Micro

The so-called JIGSAW ransomware is the latest twist in the disturbingly rampant ransomware trend, malware infections that lock the victim out of their files and demand payment in Bitcoins – or the files get deleted. What sets JIGSAW apart from other ransomware attacks, besides its horror-flick riff, is the very tight deadline for ransom payment. And akin to how a thriller builds on suspense, fear, and horror, JIGSAW builds pressure on the victim with multiple warnings to pay the ransom or lose his or her data.

“JIGSAW is forcing the hand of the [victim] organization so they are not going to be able to look at backups” or other options to retrieve their data, says Michael Davis, CTO of CounterTack. “It’s forcing them to pay up immediately and sooner” than other ransomware, he says.

Trend Micro researcher Jasen Sumalapao describes it as an exponential attack. “Recent crypto-ransomware families have ransom amounts that grow as time passes, but not with the same increments as JIGSAW. To make matters worse, it deletes a larger amount of files with every hour while the amount to be paid also increases,” he said in a blog post today. “And with the exponential increase of files being permanently deleted, users may be pressured into paying the ransom so they may either save the remaining files, or avoid paying a larger ransom.”

The ransom starts anywhere from $20 to $250.

JIGSAW, aka BitcoinBlackmailer.exe, appears to have been created on March 23, and was first used in attacks a week later. According to researchers at Raytheon’s Forcepoint Laboratories, the author uses the file extension ‘.FUN.’

Fear is a big component of the success of most ransomware attacks. Victims feel trapped and panicked, especially if they don’t have good backups of their data. So many relent and pay the ransom; but there’s still no guarantee they’ll see the data. According to new data from the Ponemon Group, just 38% of organizations have a plan or strategy for handling a destructive malware attack like ransomware or other data destruction methods, and that’s down from 43% last year.

Davis, whose company commissioned the Ponemon study, says the drop reflects a reality check as ransomware became more destructive and pervasive. “There was a little overconfidence last year,” he says. “Ransomware didn’t have the effect then that it had at the end of 2015 and in early 2016.”

The data, which is part of the 2016 State of Endpoint Report, shows how most organizations just don’t have the capability to defend or prepare for a ransomware attack. “This is showing that access control is not [happening] in organizations,” he says. One user getting infected with ransomware shouldn’t end up bringing an entire organization to its knees, he says.

More than half of organizations consider ransomware one of the most harmful attacks today, behind zero-day attacks were number one  (71%); followed by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks (68%); and exploiting an existing vulnerability (53%).

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According to Trend Micro’s research, JIGSAW infects machines via a file they download from a free cloud storage service called 1fichier[.]com. This isn’t the first time the cloud storage provider has inadvertently hosted malware, either, but the malicious URLs have since been removed from their site. Porn sites also are spreading the ransomware, and JIGSAW uses a different threat for those victims with the message: “YOU ARE A PORN ADDICT.STOP WATCHING SO MUCH PORN. NOW YOU HAVE TO PAY.”

JIGSAW, like many ransomware variants, is not sophisticated nor does it contain any new features that haven’t yet been seen in this type of malware. It’s more about the psychological fear factor, researchers say.

Related Content:

 

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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Nitsan@Cymmetria
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[email protected],
User Rank: Author
4/21/2016 | 7:40:31 PM
Re: A new meaning to "Scareware"
you can say that again..this is one creepy malware.
ArionHoward
50%
50%
ArionHoward,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/21/2016 | 10:16:14 AM
Re: Success rate?
Thank you Kelly! Loved this article from March. To technical careers, prevention seems so simple with a fully robust business continuity plan that covers the whole company by knowing the worth of all of your data classes, backing them up and testing a full recovery playout regularly. Hospitals, lawyers & police departments are most vulnerable with a lack of technical expertise like cloud service providers, but having been involved with some big full scale breeches a cyberwar is more common than mother natures emergencies that provide more warnings.
ArionHoward
50%
50%
ArionHoward,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/21/2016 | 10:16:09 AM
Re: Success rate?
Thank you Kelly! Loved this article from March. To technical careers, prevention seems so simple with a fully robust business continuity plan that covers the whole company by knowing the worth of all of your data classes, backing them up and testing a full recovery playout regularly. Hospitals, lawyers & police departments are most vulnerable with a lack of technical expertise like cloud service providers, but having been involved with some big full scale breeches a cyberwar is more common than mother natures emergencies that provide more warnings.
Kelly Jackson Higgins
50%
50%
Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
4/20/2016 | 7:00:33 PM
Re: A new meaning to "Scareware"
Well, we are in an election year...
Joe Stanganelli
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50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2016 | 6:35:35 PM
A new meaning to "Scareware"
Reminds me of a prank I read about many years ago that went something like this: Get access to your local super-paranoid libertarian's computer, and install a program that, at a given time while being used, will lock up their computer, make it go blank, then simply put the words "They are coming..." on the screen.

Then, queue the helicopter sound effects.
Kelly Jackson Higgins
50%
50%
Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
4/20/2016 | 9:48:58 AM
Re: Success rate?
In 2015, victims paid a total of over $24 million in 2,453 reported ransomware attacks,

Here's a good piece we had on the dilemma ransomware victims face: http://www.darkreading.com/vulnerabilities---threats/ransomware-putting-companies-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place/d/d-id/1324687
Whoopty
100%
0%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2016 | 7:00:29 AM
Success rate?
As much as I would champion just taking the hit when others' systems are infected so as not to encourage the practice, I'd really struggle not to pay up if somehow all of my on and offline backups were encrypted. 

Do we know what kind of success rate these sorts of malware have and in the cases where people do pay up, is their data returned in working order?
Ransomware Grabs Headlines but BEC May Be a Bigger Threat
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