What is Ransomware?

What is Ransomware?

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware or malicious software. When hit with ransomware, organizations lose access to their systems and data, and cybercriminals demand a ransom in exchange for releasing the data.

The threat of ransomware is increasing, and so is the impact. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated, and the ransoms are getting more significant. This is why we are breaking down five ransomware trends you should be paying attention to right now:

  1. Attackers are utilizing developers to create the malware. Commissions are paid to the developers for the use of the malware.
  2. Remote workers are hot targets right now. Most of the entry points are remote desktop, employee access gateway, and VPN access portals.
  3. Operational technology is a prime target, with 41% of all ransomware attacks targeted toward line-of-business applications.
  4. Email phishing is still one of the main tools attackers use to access your sensitive data.
  5. Many attackers look to disable backup/recovery capabilities, so victims are forced to pay for access to their systems and data.

Is my organization a good target for ransomware?

Every organization is susceptible to a ransomware attack, but a few notable factors can increase your chance of a ransomware attack.

Are you in an industry that frequently is targeted by ransomware?  It’s common for ransomware families to target multiple organizations in a particular industry, given the attack surfaces are similar.

Does your organization prioritize security?  A few industries have notoriously underfunded security programs, including higher education, startups, and small businesses.

Does your organization store and manage high-value data?  The higher value the data is, the more significant the change of ransomware attacks. It’s more likely that an organization will pay the ransom to recover its data if the data is extremely sensitive.

How does ransomware work?

  • Step 1: Gaining Access

This can be done via phishing links and attachments, using weak credentials to log into single-factor remote management and VPN access points. Attackers exploit common security vulnerabilities, including SQL injection, broken authentication, access control, and insufficient logging and monitoring.

  • Step 2: Privilege Escalation

Once in, attackers work to exploit bugs, design or security flaws, or configuration oversights.

  • Step 3: Find and Exploit Sensitive Data

Attackers quickly identify servers or applications that may contain sensitive data to hold ransom.

  • Step 4: Ransomware Deployment

After the attacker has gathered all the data, they are looking for time to deploy the ransomware software.

  • Step 5: Get paid

Once paid, the likelihood of recovering the money is low. Even when money is returned, you’re not likely to get all of it back. For example, in 2021, the FBI recovered $2.3 million of the $5 million from the Colonial Pipeline attackers.

Should I Pay the Ransom?

It depends on the industry regulations, the complexity of the situation, and the business risk.

Best Practices for Ransomware Protection

Businesses must be proactive about their cybersecurity. Here are eight best practices to follow to protect your business from a ransomware attack:

  1. Employee awareness with Security Awareness Training.
  2. Limit your external attack surface.
  3. Evaluate what you expose on the internet.
  4. Access management: Multi-factor authentication, strong passwords, and privilege management.
  5. Review and test your data backup plan often.
  6. Perform regular penetration testing to identify and remediate your vulnerabilities with Security Risk Assessments.
  7. Put your incident response plan, crisis communications, and business continuity plans to the test.
  8. Practice ransomware resiliency. The more proactive your security efforts, the better you will prevent, detect, and recover from a ransomware attack.

Remember, it’s not if but when this will happen to your business. The best thing you can do to protect your business is to put safeguards in place. Contact our team to learn how we can help put affordable security measures in place for your business.