Isn’t it uncanny how sometimes a weekly sermon, which has the potential to be about anything in the world, can hit so close to home with exactly what you are experiencing? How does God do that?
This month at church, we began a sermon series titled, “Financial Fitness”. The series directly tied into the kickoff of 2017, and the resolutions many of us made. What family doesn’t want to be better financially fit, right? If Jesus spoke about this topic (money) more than any other in the Bible, it obviously deserves some attention in our lives. The sermon this week covered the topic of ‘contentment’, and during the course of the sermon, the pastor clearly illustrated (humorously and Biblically) how wanting “more” brings about more fatigue, expenses, anxiety, conflict and dissatisfaction.
We all know people (and let’s be honest we can also look inward to ourselves) where discontentment looms and who seek to get rich quick. I can’t even count the number of times last year that I read of record-setting State lottery drawings despite impossible odds, poverty rates and joblessness. People don’t have $4 for a gallon of milk, but they have a $2 bucks to blow on a one-in-a-billion-lottery chance.
Many of us can relate to those friends and family members who travel to Las Vegas in hopes of that one lucky pull on a slot machine that will “change their life”. (Is that even possible? What are they truly in quest of?). Online gambling is at an all-time high and the list goes on. Even in my cyber security world, we are seeing get rich quick schemes in increasing (and downright scary!) numbers. Cyber thieves are capitalizing on our discontentment and desire for more and more stuff. For example, at this point, most of us have heard of the notorious ‘Nigerian Email’, you know the one, where the user receives an email promising them a huge chunk of money simply by fronting a very small financial payment. Facebook and Twitter are full of Ponzi-style schemes, in fact just this past Christmas the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” was circulating widely (the idea was to send a $10 gift in hopes of receiving many more $10 gifts in return). These are scams, people! Wake up!
Earlier this week, my Virus Research Team at Thirtyseven4 was asked to look into a new ransomware family that was reportedly being offered via a Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS). Like State lotteries or the allure of Las Vegas, RaaS can be a very attractive offering, as its premise is to allow someone quick rewards with minimal effort-- allowing the authors to do the “hard” work (coding, financial setup, tracking and payment, language translations if necessary, etc.). The noted ransomware in question was being referred within the industry as the “Satan ransomware”.
While RaaS is not new to Thirtyseven4 (ie. the infamous ‘Cerber’ ransomware), what differentiates the Satan ransomware is that its service allows any wannabe criminal (sadly, think grade-school kid, angry teen, disgruntled employee, dejected boyfriend, etc.) to register an account on the evil doers website and create their very own customized version of the Satan Ransomware. For example, a negatively-motivated individual can configure their own financial ransom demand, and then partner with Satan ransomware writers to wreak havoc (technically speaking) on a person of their choice. The author(s) of the Satan ransomware, upon a successful (for a lack of better term) mission, would receive a certain percentage of the total money collected according to their website. Like most forms of ransomware, the Satan ransomware will encrypt data and append the .stn extension to encrypted files. It will also display a ransom note named HELP_DECRYPT_FILES.html shortly after execution. Bottom line- it will bring emotional stress, financial chaos and other turmoil on its victims.
I’ve had the opportunity to analyze a few of samples of the Satan ransomware that we have received but thankfully found the samples to be inactive at the time of this column. Additionally, we have also not received any (live) Satan ransomware cases from end users as a result of our Thirtyseven4 Next-Gen Detection Technology, which proactively blocks suspicious files from executing, based on behavior checks and then relays the files to our Virus Research Team for immediate analysis. Given that, I feel the distribution of the Satan ransomware is minimal. (As a precaution, Thirtyseven4 has added detection for these ransomware files, and they are currently being detected as "Trojan.Dynamer"). Nevertheless, we are aware that similar RaaS attacks are circulating, and gaining popularity, especially in the emotional market.
I noted this Satan Raas not because of the hideous name given to it, but for a couple of reasons (1) Due to the increasing popularity of cybercriminals to utilize Raas. We will likely continue to see this method grow exponentially in the coming months/years. (2) To really illustrate what lengths people will go through for quick financial (and emotional) gains. Can you imagine turning a “profit” by specifically targeting your friends, family, co-workers, and local businesses with custom created ransomware? It’s appalling. It’s wrong. It’s mean, and the intent goes against everything our parents and pastors ever taught us.
I hope that our Thirtyseven4 Labs and intuitions about growing types of Satan Raas are incorrect. I would love for “Love your Neighbor” to resonate instead of disintegrate. But I fear the namesake of these latest threats has a foothold in the World, and in some people’s motives.
The allure and draw of money are dangerous and deceiving. There is no depth or satisfaction in wealth. True wealth is family and friends to share life with. True wealth is the health of yourself and those you love. True loss is the lack of these things—ask anyone who has suffered.
This coming month (April) marks Easter. Jesus is the perfect reminder. His death and resurrection paying the ultimate price for us so that we can experience contentment—financial contentment, mental contentment, spiritual contentment and everlasting peace with Him.
Enjoy what we have. Focus on what will last forever.