How to establish a strategy to defend against ransomware attacks

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In recent times, the world has witnessed some ransomware attacks that have not only paralyzed the activity and hijacked the data of thousands of users, but have also exposed the vulnerabilities of the existing cyber ecosystem.

Ransomware is more and more becoming a serious threat to both users and organizations. As cybersecurity experts scramble to stop it, it seems that cybercriminals are outperforming each other, with the intensity and sophistication of their attacks growing every day. The ransomware began with the attack on a floppy disk, which involved a $189 ransom payment. From then on, organized attempts to attack the security breaches of all kinds of companies by hacker groups began to arise. These early attacks evolved into a multi-billion dollar cybercrime industry, which is what ransomware is nowadays.

Leaving old attack techniques backside, ransomware cybercriminals are threatening the entire Internet ecosystem and making large business conglomerates, governments, and other organizations vulnerable. The appearance of digital currency or cryptocurrency has further aggravated this process.

Ransomware attacks go beyond encrypted data

The evolution of ransomware attacks is ensuring that sensitive information is encrypted for users, since a security breach and the consequent data leak entails the payment of a high ransom, given the value it represents for companies.

Due to the rapid increase in these types of attacks , organizations around the world are paying an average of $220,298 per year in ransom, plus the cost of 23 days of downtime, as their core business operations are paralyzed during that time. These attacks also imply additional risks for the clients of the victim companies, which translates into a loss of confidence.

The evolution of ransomware attacks is encrypting sensitive information for users

Other risks associated with ransomware attacks include breaches of the confidentiality and integrity of critical data . For many organizations, data security is paramount, given its touchy nature. One example is secret files, which must not fall into the public domain or into the hands of rival companies or illegal entities. Exposure of this data not only causes a significant loss of company reputation, but could also result in meaningful loss of revenue.

Similarly, in the case of sensitive government files, whether a ransomware attack leads to a data breach and the data falls into the hands of rival countries or unlawful non-state actors, the consequences could be truly severe.

A real headache

The above reasons are enough for companies to worry about the security of their data, and the greater that feeling of insecurity, the greater their willingness to pay to protect themselves from attacks. But is paying a ransom to cybercriminals the final solution to protect the data they have had access to? The answer is no.

Even provided the victim organizations pay the cybercriminals responsible for the ransomware attack to gain access to the decryption keys, this does not warranty that the hackers will not sell the stolen data on the dark web for more money. These types of incidents have already occurred in multiple cases. Ransomware criminals Netwalker and Mespinoza leaked stolen data from companies, despite paying meaningful ransom amounts from victims, as Coveware’s Q3 2020 Ransomeware Report reveals.

This undoubtedly justifies the fact that companies are continually updating their defense strategies to detect, prevent and respond to ransomware and other types of cybercrime.

Accepting the challenge of going ahead is the key

Staying one step ahead of cybercriminals has become a challenge in the world of ever-evolving technologies. But that’s also the key to staying relatively secure and preventing cyberattacks. To do this, companies need to understand the different tactics that ransomware attackers follow and also the different dynamics of cybercrime.

Modern ransomware attacks often include different techniques such as social engineering, phishing email, and malicious email links. Also, they take virtue of vulnerabilities in unpatched software to infiltrate company systems and deploy malware on them e. Maintaining a protected system and good cyber-hygiene is a process that requires continuity and does not allow any pause.

Cybercriminals are always looking for new points of vulnerability in their target’s cyber system. An association ‘s cyber defense strategies against common threats and attack methods are constantly improving, but cyber attackers are always looking for loopholes for their malicious activities to penetrate the system. Therefore, it is very important to detect threats in time and respond to them in a timely manner, through real-time monitoring of different channels and networks. It is an endless cyclical process.

While organizations work on their own cybersecurity system, they are not aware of what the next ransomware attack will look like, something that happens despite all the security measures taken. The only realistic mannequin to address this issue is for organizations to implement a multi-layered security strategy , which represents a balance between threat prevention, detection, and remediation. Organizations should start with a “zero trust” security strategy.

Zero-trust security and its effectiveness in protecting against ransomware

The design and implementation of an effective “zero trust” security system that guarantees the improvement and security of the digital assets of companies today, requires an active operating framework and a series of first-rate technologies. . For their part, companies must verify each of their assets and transactions before allowing any access to the network.

These checks can be done through a variety of methods, such as ensuring internal systems are patched and up-to-date, passwordless multi-factor authentication (MFA), or deploying unified device management (UEM).

Ensuring an effective “zero trust” security system involves patching and managing vulnerabilities to keep devices hygienic. Security teams can use innovative hyper-automation technologies, such as deep learning technology, to ensure that all terminals, endpoints, and data can be discovered, managed, and secured in real time.

Organizations should consider participating in drills to test their responses to ransomware attacks. This will help them assess a similar situation to the real object and test the technologies used to detect and prevent threats. Also, it will help them devise a recovery plan which can be crucial in minimizing assessment time in a real threat situation. These drills also help companies understand if and how they would be able to detect and respond to the threat.

It is impossible to foretell when, where and how cybercriminals will carry out their next ransomware attacks, so organizations should be prepared for any such scenario. In a “zero trust” security system, prevention is the key, and drills are essential to improve an organization’s ability to effectively manage critical situations.

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