New Ransomware Risk: EKANS

Posted by John Cofini on Mon, Feb 24, 2020 @ 11:44 AM

ransomware-riskOrganizations with industrial operations have a new threat to worry about. A new type of malware has been discovered. It’s called EKANS, which is “snake” spelled backwards. Like a serpent, it can slither into your industrial control systems and wreak havoc.

How Ransomware Campaigns Work

Ransomware is a particularly malicious type of malware. The FBI warns that cybercriminals can infect computer systems through various techniques, including:

  • Email phishing campaigns that include a malicious file or link
  • Exploitation of remote desktop protocol vulnerabilities
  • Exploitation of software vulnerabilities

After a computer system is infected, the files are encrypted. Then a message appears, saying that the files will only be returned if the victim pays a ransom. Some victims decide to pay the ransom because they need their files back – however, there’s no guarantee that the cybercriminals will keep their word and restore the files.

EKANS and a Growing Level of Sophistication

Recently, ransomware attacks are been getting more targeted and sophisticated. Instead of spamming malware to as many people as possible, cybercriminals are now more likely to target their victims carefully.

Ransomware can affect organizations in any industry, but certain industries are especially vulnerable. This has included healthcare and government entities. Now, with the rise of EKANS, industrial control systems are also being targeted.

According to WIRED, EKANS encrypts files connected to industrial control systems. The results could be disastrous for manufacturing facilities, power grids, oil refineries and other possible targets.

The Impact on Business and Insurance

If your business deals with industrial control systems, the EKANS threat should be of particular concern. But even if your business is in another industry, don’t relax just yet. EKANS is one of the latest ransomware campaigns, but it won’t be the last.

According the 2019 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received more than 2,000 complaints of ransomware in 2019. The adjusted losses of these attacks came to more than $8.9 million.   

Businesses in every industry must take steps to keep their computer systems safe from ransomware attacks. And because ransomware attacks are always evolving, businesses must work hard to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals – or, at the very least, to avoid falling far behind.

Cyber insurance is also essential. According to Insurance Thought Leadership, the insurance industry may need to make changes to adapt to the increasing sophistication of ransomware attacks, including the new EKANS malware. These changes could include higher rates as well as standalone policies written specifically to cover ransomware threats.

Have questions about your cyber liability exposures and coverages? Contact your BNC Insurance advisor.

Tags: cyber liability, ransomware risk, ransomware