Nowadays, in the world of the internet, ransomware gangs are increasing demands frequently. More and more organizations whether big or small are falling prey to their traps. So today in this article, we will talk about what is a ransomware attack and how you can protect your organization from a ransomware attack.
But before we discuss it, first let us talk about how can lack of ransomware protection can harm you. Ransomware is one of the biggest cybersecurity problems and one of the biggest forms of cybercrime organizations face today. Ransomware is a form of malicious software that encrypts files and documents
from a single PC up to an entire network, including servers. Most ransomware attacks start with someone inside an organization clicking on what looks like an innocent attachment that when opened, downloads the malicious software, and encrypts the network. Other, much larger ransomware campaigns use loopholes in software, cracked passwords, and other vulnerabilities to gain access to organizations using weak points such as remote desktop login access to gain access. The attackers will simply hunt within the network until they control as much as possible- before encrypting all they can. After that the victims of the attackers are left with only two choices:
- They can get access to their encrypted network by paying a ransom to the attackers and restoring data from their backups.
- They can restart everything from scratch.
Here are some of the very famous U.S. companies affected by ransomware attacks in 2022:-
- Jacksonville Spine Center:- This company is a physician practice providing pain management services in locations throughout Northeast Florida. On January 24 this company was attacked by a ransomware virus that maintained patient files created since May
- According to some lawyers, the attackers threatened to publish some stolen files online unless a ransom was paid.
- Samsung:- Ransomware hacking group Lapsus$, recently has leaked a massive collection of confidential data, from Samsung. According to Bleeping Computer, the group has split the 190GB, of leaked data into three compressed files and made them available to download in a torrent that appears to be highly popular.
- Nvidia:- During February 2022, the ransomware gang lapsus$, attacked Nvidia’s computer systems. Most of Nvidia’s employee’s credentials were leaked and the group would soon release 1 terabyte of stolen data as per the report.
- Corning Inc.:- On January 5, the employees of Corning Inc. have told 18 News that their payroll system has been impacted, because of a ransomware attack. The name of the virus was Kronos. Now the company is working to prevent any potential impact that may arise until their service is restored.
There are several other examples of ransomware attacks on U.S. companies but these were the most critical ones.
Now, let’s talk about what the future of ransomware attacks beyond 2022 would look like:
The most dangerous factor of a Ransomware attack is that they constantly evolve. Hence this topic involves three ways ransomware would become harmful in years to come:
- Ransomware would use IoT as entry points:
There would be over 25 million IoT devices by the end of this year. IoT devices are left vulnerable and exposed to attacks from ransomware software because some unwanted services remain enabled. Hence IoT is being used as an entry point for attacks by many ransomware gangs. Organizations who want ransomware protections need to make sure that they have full control over all their devices and understand the risks associated with them. To increase ransomware protection they need to ensure that corrective actions are taken like
disabling unrequired services to protect themselves against ransomware gangs.
- Ransomware would increasingly target third party software:
Instead of attacking organizations directly, nowadays ransomware viruses would attack their weak points like, supply chain software, remote monitoring, and management software. These are actually third-party software containing vulnerabilities that have remained unpatched for decades and hackers would continue to exploit them. It is difficult for organizations to protect themselves against such kinds of attacks because the responsibility to address such vulnerabilities is shared between the third-party devices or software manufacturers and the company that uses them. To prevent such kind of ransomware attacks, organizations need to be more proactive to have control over their software systems to minimize the fallout in the event of a successful attack.
- Ransomware would focus on operational technology:
An attack on the OT(Operational Technology) systems of a company would result in the halting of operations completely. Here a ransomware attack would lead to the company getting locked out of their systems completely. Then the company gets no other choice than to pay the demand of the ransomware gangs. To prevent such incidents from happening in the first place the organization needs to strengthen its network segmentation and visibility effort to neutralize an attacker’s ability to move freely across a network and tamper with it.
Now let us finally talk about how can you prevent and limit the impact of such ransomware attacks:
- Maintain Backups: Backing up your important data, can be a very effective way of recovering from a ransomware infection. But then the attackers would try to prey on your backup data as well. So make sure that your backup files are properly protected and stored offline so that they can’t be targeted by them. Also, be sure to regularly test your backup files for efficacy.
- Develop Plans and policies: Ransomware attacks can happen anywhere. Hence you need to create an incident response plan so that your IT team can know what to do during an attack. You can also create a suspicious email policy, for your company. This would train employees on what to do if they receive any suspicious emails.
- Review Port Settings: Most of the ransomware pipelines take advantage of Remote Desktop Protocol port 3389 and Server Message Block Port 445. Make sure that your organization keeps these ports close and limit its connection to only trusted host.
- Harden your endpoints: Configure your systems with security in mind. Secure configuration settings can help protect your organization from the threat of ransomware spies.
- Keep your systems up-to-date: Update your organization’s operating systems, applications and software regularly. Make sure that you turn on the auto-update feature. This would close the security gaps that the gangs are trying to exploit.
- Train your team: Security awareness training would teach your employees about how to differentiate between a malicious email and a real one. This way your employees can spot and prevent ransomware attacks.
- Implement an IDS: An Intrusion Detection System, looks for malicious activity by comparing network traffic logs to signatures that detect known malicious activity. The IDS would alert your organization if it detects any suspicious ransomware activity.
As a conclusion, we would like to say that, it is true that ransomware gangs have made millions from other well-established organizations by encrypting their important data and then charging a large sum of money. Sadly at that point of time, the
victims had no systems to protect themselves and so they had to pay the heavy price. Also, they had to spend a lot of money to create a solution so that such kind of incident doesn’t happen in the future. But fortunately, nowadays technology had made a lot of improvements, so new systems and procedures are being established every day to counter the ransomware gangs and their malicious attacks.
Remember that prevention is much better than cure. Hence by following all of the seven solutions listed above, you can prevent the attackers from attacking your system in the first place which is better than looking for a solution after the attacker has already tampered with your system and encrypted your data.