McAfee Chief Scientist Offers Chilling Preview of Future Ransomware

New strains of malware are popping up every day.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

January 21, 2020

3 Min Read
Ransomware with Cash and Key

Over the last couple of years, headline after headline has screamed the consequences of a ransomware hit from bad actors, and smart service providers know to approach cybersecurity with a when, not if, mentality.

But just like everything else in business technology today, the threat landscape is evolving faster than we can keep up with. Today’s criminals threaten not to delete data, but to make it public, and new strains of malware are popping up every day.


McAfee’s Raj Samani

During his keynote, titled “Future of Ransomware, Explained,” at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, March 9-12, Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee, will outline what the channel can expect to see from cybercriminals in 2020 and beyond.

He also will provide tips for the audience on how to prepare for the future of ransomware.

At last fall’s McAfee MPower 2019, Samani shared McAfee’s latest research findings regarding the Sodinokibi ransomware, which is impacting MSPs and other businesses, as well as cities, towns and hospitals. The research points to correlations between the “retirement” of GandCrab ransomware after its crew claimed making $2 billion, and the emergence of Sodinokibi.

The average payout from Sodinokibi is $288,000, he said.

In a Q&A with Channel Futures, Samani gives a sneak peek of the information he plans to share with attendees.

Channel Futures: How has ransomware evolved in recent years? Is it more dangerous than ever?

Raj Samani: We use the term ransomware, yet the evolution of some of the recent variants have deviated so much that a more appropriate term is digital exortion; recently for example, the threat to release data represents not only reputational damage to victims, but the threat of the regulatory penalties. This evolution, when combined with the threat of disabling key systems, is done with the sole purpose of encouraging payment.

Join Samani and 100+ industry-leading speakers, more than 6,400 partners and 300+ key vendors, distributors and master agents at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, March 9-12. Register now!

CF: Is there a typical profile of the cybercriminal behind the average ransomware attack? Who all are behind the average attack?

RJ: No longer is the term hacker synonymous with poor stereotypes that have plagued underinvestment. Today, we deal with organized criminal gangs well funded and available for hire. They deploy innovative campaigns designed to understand their victim and strike with such ferocity that critical services that support entire cities have been shut down as a result.

CF: What are some examples of the most treacherous and damaging ransomware attacks?

RJ: Recent attacks against cities, or even those that have shut down companies, are a major concern. Those behind the likes of Ryuk, REVIL and many other pose a threat since the adversary is well funded and very capable.

CF: What’s ransomware going to look like in the future?

RJ: The advent of IoT supporting our lives presents a tremendous opportunity, but equally a potential new attack vector.

CF: What do you hope attendees learn and can make use of from your keynote?

RJ: A deeper understanding of the threat, but more importantly key steps that can be taken to better protect our way of life.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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