Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) is a dark web cyberthreat to businesses that utilizes software to launch an attack and secure a ransom payment. These attacks entail a cybercriminal deploying malicious software to compromise a device (or multiple devices) and demand a large payment be made before restoring the technology for the victim—have become a significant concern for organizations across industry lines. In fact, the latest research provides that these attacks have increased by nearly 140% in the past year alone, with the median ransom payment demand totaling $178,000 and the average overall loss from such an attack exceeding $1 million.

A key contributor to this surge is the recent debut of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS). Put simply, RaaS refers to a dark web business model that permits sophisticated cybercriminals to sell their ransomware software to willing buyers (usually less skilled cybercriminals), who then utilize the software to launch an attack and secure a ransom payment.

The RaaS model poses a serious threat to organizations of all sizes and sectors, as it allows cybercriminals of any skill level to execute ransomware attacks on their targets. Review the following guidance to learn more about the RaaS model, its impact on organizational cybersecurity and best practices for addressing RaaS concerns.

What Is Ransomware-as-a-Service?

Although its purpose is to sell a harmful product, the RaaS model operates quite similarly to a normal business model. First, knowledgeable ransomware developers generate malicious software to be sold. In order to be attractive to buyers, this software must carry a high likelihood of penetration and a minimal risk of discovery.

Once the software has been created and is ready for distribution, it gets launched as a multi-end user infrastructure. RaaS developers then seek potential customers by using typical business marketing methods throughout the dark web—such as advertisements and online forums. Some developers are more selective in who they offer their software to, requiring customers to demonstrate certain technological skills or cybersecurity knowledge, while others are not as strict.

When RaaS developers secure buyers, these customers are usually provided with access to not only the ransomware software itself, but some form of a product portal as well. This portal may include detailed instructions for software implementation, user reviews, support forums and special discounts or offers for future purchases from the developer. Customers may receive permanent access to the software they buy, or only be given an allotted amount of time to utilize it—similar to a rental agreement.

Depending on the developer, RaaS purchases can be a one-time sale or a monthly subscription service. In some cases, RaaS developers don’t actually sell their software, but rather recruit other cybercriminals who are willing to launch attacks using the developers’ software in exchange for a percentage of the resulting ransom payment. This commission-based partnership is also known as an affiliate program.

Regardless of whether RaaS developers have customers or affiliates, once these cybercriminals receive the developers’ software, they can use it to execute ransomware attacks on their targets—potentially resulting in widespread disruption, damaged or destroyed data, reputational repercussions and significant financial fallout for the affected organizations. Well-known RaaS incidents include WannaCry, Cerber, MacRansom, Philadelphia, Atom, Hostman and FLUX.

The Impact of Ransomware-as-a-Service

Prior to the emergence of RaaS, cybercriminals needed to possess extensive software knowledge and coding capabilities in order to pull off a ransomware attack. In other words, only the most sophisticated cybercriminals could successfully launch such attacks and obtain ransom payments from their victims.

However, the introduction of RaaS to the dark web has allowed cybercriminals of practically any skill level and very little technical ability to accomplish this feat with a simple purchase—contributing to a rapid increase in the frequency of ransomware attacks as a whole.

In addition to attack frequency, cybercriminals involved in RaaS models have become more confident in the strength of their malicious software—thus motivating them to ramp up their ransom payment demands. This is particularly true in the scope of RaaS affiliate programs. Because affiliates only receive a portion of the overall ransom payment following an attack, an elevated payment demand provides them with a larger profit.

That being said, the RaaS model has played a major role in increasing both the frequency and cost of ransomware events in recent years, compounding the expected consequences that affected organizations will face for an already severely damaging form of attack.

Addressing Ransomware-as-a-Service Cyberthreat Concerns

The best way to minimize the growing threat of RaaS concerns at your organization is to make ransomware prevention and response measures a top priority. Remember that ransomware attacks are commonly deployed via phishing emails, deceptive links, dangerous websites, harmful attachments and malicious programs. With this in mind, here are some best practices for combatting ransomware attacks:

  • Secure your systems—First, it’s important to take steps to protect your organizational IT infrastructure from potential ransomware exposures. This may entail:
    • Using a virtual private network (VPN) for all internet-based activities (e.g., browsing and sending emails)
    • Installing antivirus software on all workplace technology
    • Implementing a firewall to block cybercriminals from accessing your organization’s VPN
    • Restricting employees’ access to websites that aren’t secure
    • Establishing email filters to keep phishing messages from reaching employees’ inboxes
    • Encrypting sensitive data on all organizational devices and routinely backing up this information
    • Limiting which employees receive administrative controls to prevent inexperienced staff from mistakenly downloading a malicious program
    • Regularly updating all organizational devices and security programs to ensure effectiveness
    • Developing a cyber incident response plan that adequately considers ransomware scenarios and practicing this plan with staff
  • Educate your employees—Next, be sure to train your employees on how to prevent and respond to a ransomware attack. Give your staff these tips:
    • Avoid opening or responding to emails from individuals or organizations you don’t know. If an email claims to be from a trusted source, be sure to verify their identity by double-checking the address.
    • Never click on suspicious links or pop-ups—whether they’re in an email or on a website. Similarly, avoid downloading attachments or software programs from unknown sources or locations.
    • Only browse safe and secure websites on organizational devices. Refrain from using workplace devices for personal browsing.
    • If you suspect a ransomware attack, contact your manager or the IT department immediately for further guidance.

We are here to help.

If you’d like additional information and resources, we’re here to help you analyze your needs and make the right coverage decisions to protect your operations from unnecessary risk. You can download a free copy of our eBook, or if you’re ready make Cyber Liability Insurance a part of your insurance portfolio, Request a Proposal or download and get started on our Cyber & Data Breach Insurance Application and we’ll get to work for you.

Tom Simon

Tom Simon

Chairman of the Board

Tom has worked in the insurance industry since 1977 holding numerous positions from Account Executive and Agency Manager, President to his current role. He combines his unique ability of thinking differently with his wealth of insurance and business experience to propel CoverLink to new levels of success.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, especially his grandkids. In addition, he’s also an avid woodsman… yes, you read that correctly. He can often be found yelling “timber” or just splitting firewood for family and friends.

 

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Matt Simon

President

Prior to joining the team at CoverLink in 2006, Matt worked as an Underwriter with a multi-state insurance company located in Columbus, Ohio. Matt is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), having successfully completed the rigorous coursework and exams to earn these designations.

He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Insurance Agents Association and the Associated Risk Managers of Ohio, in addition to volunteering his time to multiple other community and industry organizations.

In 2013, Matt was awarded and recognized as the National Young Insurance Agent of the Year, and in 2019 he was recognized as the Insurance Advisor of the year by Finance Monthly.

 

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Gina Loehr

Gina Loehr

Senior Account Manager

Gina oversees the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink, which is responsible for managing the business insurance needs for clients.

She has worked in the insurance industry since 1980, beginning as a Commercial Underwriter with a regional company located in Springfield, Ohio.

In 1984, she earned her Certificate in General Insurance, and in 1995, her Accredited Advisor of Insurance designation.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including four grandkids, and biking.

 

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Kyle Carper

Account Manager

Kyle joined the CoverLink team in 2018 as in intern when he was a junior in high school. Shortly after, he began studying to obtain his insurance license, which he passed in 2020 and joined our Personal Lines division.

Kyle helps individuals and families with their home, auto, umbrella and other personal insurance needs, which he thoroughly enjoys.

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with the ones he loves, watching sports and playing video games.

 

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Tim O’Rielley

Senior Insurance Advisor

Tim works with individuals, families and businesses to design insurance policies perfectly suited to their specific needs.

He has been working in the insurance industry, and with CoverLink, since 1993. As a lifelong resident of Logan County, he’s been involved with a number of community organizations, often taking the leadership role such as President of the Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way.

He’s often found spending as much time as possible with his two daughters, and his grandkids

 

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Mark Osborne

Account Executive

Mark has worked at CoverLink since 2004. He specializes in life and health insurance, where he utilizes his extensive knowledge to help clients make sense of a confusing and ever changing market.

He also holds the Property & Casualty Insurance License, and often helps families as well as small businesses to set up their insurance protection plan.

Mark graciously volunteers his time to several community organizations, and enjoys spending his free time with his family

 

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Leah Loehr

Account Manager

Leah joined the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink in 2012 where she works closely with business owners on their Commercial Insurance needs to help them achieve their desired level of protection.

Leah is known for her outgoing personality, positive attitude, and relentless pursuit of the goals she sets out to achieve. Clients often rave about her and the service she provides.

In her spare time, Leah enjoys spending time with her family and friends… and she can often be found at the closest Buffalo Wild Wings!

 

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Larry Middaugh

Larry Middaugh, PLCS

Senior Insurance Advisor

Larry joined CoverLink with an extensive background in sales, bringing over 30 years of experience and commitment to taking care of his clients in the banking and mortgage industry.

Larry’s dedication to his clients aligned so well with the CoverLink tradition of relentlessly caring for, and protecting its clients, that he joined the team of Licensed Insurance Advisors in 2015.

Those in need of Personal or Business Insurance are delighted after working with Larry.

Larry defines success as knowing his purpose in life, continuing to grow to reach his fullest potential and sowing seeds that benefit others. He’s a father of three incredible children and husband to an amazing, kind and loving wife.

 

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Tony Fink

Tony Fink, CIC, CLCS

Insurance Advisor

Tony is responsible for serving the needs of individuals and businesses looking for property & casualty insurance. In addition, he’s licensed and capable of advising clients that desire life insurance protection.

He’s a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS), having successfully completed the rigorous coursework and exams to earn these designations.

Tony entered the insurance industry in 2008 bringing a diverse background of experience and knowledge to his Account Executive position with CoverLink.

In his free time, Tony enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors, following sports and listening to music.

 

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Meg Barton

Meg Barton

Senior Account Manager

Meg works in the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink as an Account Manager, where she helps businesses with their varying & complex insurance needs, from Business Auto to Commercial Liability, Directors & Officers to Commercial Property.

Meg earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Urbana University in Ohio. She has been active in the insurance industry since 2006, and is an Ohio Notary.

In her spare time, Meg enjoys spending time with her family at Indian Lake, listening to live music and reading.

 

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Jordan Springs

Jordan Springs

Account Manager

Jordan joined the CoverLink team in 2017, bringing top-notch client service skills acquired through several years in the banking industry.

She’s constantly assisting and advising clients on their personal insurance needs – home, auto, jewelry, umbrella and other policies – not to mention, she’s just plain fun to be around!

In her spare time, Jordan enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially her husband and two kids.

 

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Jill Rawlins

Jill Rawlins

Account Manager

Jill works in the Personal Lines Department where she helps individuals and families with their Home, Auto, Umbrella and other personal insurance needs.

She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in 2009 from Otterbein University, and shortly after began her career in the insurance industry.

In addition to holding the Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance License, she also has her Accident & Health, Life and Variable licenses.

Jill enjoys spending as much time as she can with her family, and especially enjoys being with her little girl who makes her laugh often.

 

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Chris Badenhop

Chris Badenhop

Insurance Advisor

Chris joined the CoverLink team in 2017 with a diverse and exciting professional and educational background. He works with individuals, families and businesses to find the ideal solution for their insurance needs.

He brings a positive attitude and a desire to help his clients in his position as an Insurance Advisor, but most importantly, he shares one of the most fundamental beliefs we hold dear within our organization: he cares. He cares about his clients, he cares about protecting all that’s important to them, and above all, he cares about doing what’s in the best interest of his clients. His enthusiasm and empathy set him apart, and he’s backed by the top-notch service provided at CoverLink, making him a tremendous asset to his clients. In short, Chris puts people before policies.

In his free time Chris enjoys spending time in the outdoors hunting and fishing. He’s also a passionate sports fan devoting support to all levels of play.

 

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Joe Cooney

Joe Cooney

Senior Insurance Advisor

Shortly after graduating from John Carrol University in 2008, Joe began his insurance career. His original focus and expertise was on personal lines and small commercial accounts, but he has since expanded his focus to include Cyber Insurance and Life Insurance, among other products.

Joe resides in Fairview Park, Ohio with his wife Megan and young son Jack. In his spare time, he coaches youth basketball and volunteers for the special Olympics.

 

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Kelli Young

Kelli Young

Director of Marketing

Kelli brings extensive marketing expertise to CoverLink after spending nine years in the automotive industry, where she gained valuable insight in the areas of design, digital presence, and content creation.

After joining CoverLink in 2015, her focus has been on telling the story of our long standing belief, that people are more important than policies, in a fresh way with a digital twist, allowing consumers who believe what we believe to find us easier.

Kelli graduated from Ohio University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, and earned her Master’s Degree in Business from Ashland University in 2010.

She enjoys spending time with her family, especially being outside with her son and two daughters.

 

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Jami Radern

Jami Rader

Director of First Impressions

As the Director of First Impressions, Jami brings top-notch client service skills. She’s constantly assisting clients with billing inquiries, working to resolve any frustrating issues they’re having, and she’s just plain fun to be around!

In her spare time, Jami enjoys spending time with family, especially her husband and four children and going on four-wheeling trips together.

Erika Asher

Account Manager

Erika works in the Commercial Lines division at CoverLink as an Account Manager, where she helps businesses with their varying & complex insurance needs, from Business Auto to Commercial Liability, Directors & Officers to Commercial Property.

In her spare time, Erika enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her son.

 

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Alissa Grim

Alissa Grim

Account Manager

Alissa works as an Account Manager where she helps individuals and families find the insurance that best fits their needs.

In addition to earning her Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance license in 2008, Alissa received her Life Insurance License in 2010.

In her spare time, Alissa enjoys spending time with her family camping, and watching her son race go karts around the U.S.

Vickie Allen

Vickie Allen

Account Manager

Vickie has worked at CoverLink since 2000 helping clients with a diverse set of needs, from securing the coverage that’s best for their individual situation, to providing guidance when claims or billing questions arise.

Vickie currently holds the Ohio Property & Casualty Insurance License, and is well known to clients because of her infectious personality and radiant smile that greets them when visiting the office.

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

Randy Leopard

Randy Leopard

Vice President

Randy began his insurance career in 2000 working with both personal and business clients on their health insurance needs.  In 2008, he expanded his area of focus to include all types of insurance his clients needed from home & auto insurance, business insurance and farm insurance.

Randy resides in Urbana where he enjoys spending time with his family, and watching his horses race from time to time.

Melodi Wilkins

Melodi Wilkins

Senior Account Manager

Melodi has called CoverLink her ‘work home’ since 2009.  In her position as a Senior Account Manager, she works closely with clients needing home, condo, renters, auto, umbrella and other types of personal insurance coverage. Melodi also provides service and assistance to businesses regarding their insurance protection needs.

In her spare time, Melodi enjoys being outside and spending time with her family, especially with her granddaughter.

Morgan Edwards

Morgan Edwards

Account Manager

Morgan joined the CoverLink family in 2019, as an Account Manager. She helps her clients with personal insurance needs such as, home, condo, renters, auto umbrella and more. In addition, she works closely with business owners on their Commercial Insurance needs to help them achieve their desired level of protection.

In her spare time, Morgan enjoys spending time with her family and friends, making memories and enjoying all that life has to offer!

Sam Ankrom

Insurance Advisor

Sam joined the Coverlink team in 2020 with a strong passion and drive to help people. As an insurance Advisor with his Property & Casualty license, he assists individuals and business with all of their insurance needs.

He is dedicated to going above and beyond for his clients and wants to make sure every client is not only properly insured, but can also feel like a part of the Coverlink family. Sam is committed to helping everyone feel confident and comfortable with their insurance decisions and have the peace of mind knowing they are taken care of by not only himself, but by the entire Coverlink team.

Outside of work you can usually find Sam spending time with friends and family, or outside on the golf course.