The authors of the GandCrab ransomware have reportedly announced on underground forums that they are closing their operation after claiming that they have earned over $150 million a year.
Offered as a service, GandCrab made a name for itself starting May last year, when version 3 of the malware was observed breaking Windows 7 systems. Within several months, the threat had adopted the NSA-linked EternalBlue exploit and became one of the most prolific ransomware families out there.
Spreading via phishing emails and mainly focused on end-users, GandCrab has been also observed targeting a Japanese manufacturing firm recently.
Overall a highly successful operation, the GandCrab Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) appears to be heading to its end, screenshots posted on Twitter by security researchers David Montenegro and “Damian” reveal.
Over the weekend, the RaaS operators apparently announced plans to retire, informing all of their customers they should stop spreading GandCrab and do all they can to monetize the existing infections within the following 20 days.
The ransomware authors also warned victims that all of the decryption keys would be erased after 20 days, and that none of the currently encrypted data would be retrievable unless ransoms are paid in the meantime.
While the numbers are questionabe, the RaaS operators also claim that the miscreants involved in GandCrab campaigns over the past year have earned over $2 billion in total. They said in their post that earnings per week averaged $2.5 million.
They also noted that the RaaS brought them over $150 million per year and that they have already managed to launder the money.
What remains to be seen is what will happen with the victims, provided GandCrab’s authors follow through with their plans to close the operation. Decryptors have been released for previous variants of the ransomware, although the authors were quick to update the malware in response.
In the past, decryption keys were released for major ransomware operations, including Petya, Locker, CrySiS, and TeslaCrypt, which has allowed the creation of free tools to help victims easily recover their data.