What We've Learned About The Best Ransomware Protection

If 2022 ransomware attack growth trends are any indicator, security teams can expect ransomware to become even more popular in 2023. In just the first half of 2022, the number of new types of ransomware variants increased by nearly 100%, nearly doubling in the past year. This explosive growth in ransomware variants is primarily thanks to more attackers taking advantage of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) campaigns.

Fortunately, even with the increase in ransomware variants, threat actors' techniques remain the same, giving security teams a trustworthy game plan for protecting against ransomware attacks. This article will discuss ransomware mitigation strategies that have worked with our clients and how you can implement these in your organization.

What Are Common Ransomware Defense Strategies?

Attempted attacks and data breach are inevitable, and organizations don't want to choose between losing their data or paying a ransom; taking the necessary steps to protect your networks while reducing the chance of your company getting hit by malware ransomware is important. Doing this requires a multilayered security approach that includes network, edge, data center, application controls, and up-to-date threat intelligence.

You must implement the best cybersecurity tools and processes when considering the importance of cybersecurity education in your mitigation strategy. It is an excellent defense against hackers by teaching employees how to recognize ransomware attacks and educating them on strong cyber hygiene practices.

Security gaps in any organization could lead to it falling prey to all types of ransomware attacks. These are some of the most common problems security teams and their organizations face, which can make them more susceptible to cyberattacks: 

  • Inadequate cyber and email security training and awareness among employees: human behavior is still a significant factor in security incidents. Your organization could be at risk if employees are not informed and educated about cybersecurity. The Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that 82% of breaches in the last year were human-related.
  • Weak password policy: insufficient passwords or policies regarding employee credentials can increase the chance that an organization will suffer email security breaches. Nearly 50% of all attacks involve compromised credentials.
  • Lack of proper security monitoring processes and procedures: your security team only requires a few cybersecurity tools to monitor and protect against email threats such as ransomware. You can manage the risk of your enterprise by using a layered email security strategy.
  • IT and security staff shortages: data indicates that cybersecurity skill gaps are a constant challenge for CISOs. Companies must determine how to retain and attract new talent while ensuring current members have the proper training and upskilling opportunities.

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Strategy 1: Stick to Strong Basics But Do Nothing Specific for Ransomware Defense

Many CISOs believe that basic email security policies can prevent most attacks. Even if the majority can be avoided by executing the basics properly, attacks will still get through. This approach is practical for companies where:

  • The enterprise does not store or process sensitive customer data directly.
  • Internal sensitive data, such as employee data, is stored and processed through SaaS providers to prevent data loss.
  • Other valuable data, such as code repositories, file shares, etc., are secured via well-executed identity and access management.
  • The enterprise does not offer external services that could suffer interruptions from a ransomware attack.
  • Backups are included in SaaS and other provider contracts.

Strategy 2: Double Down on the BCDR Plan For Smooth Ransomware Recovery

Backup vendors have falsely said that immutable backups render organizations immune to ransomware. While backups allow companies to recover their systems without paying for decryption keys, they cannot stop other types of extortion, such as those targeting stolen data, proving that these backup vendor solutions only partially answer ransomware problems.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) is a primary ransomware defense strategy, as organizations that focus on it thoroughly set up backup and recovery services. BCDR  includes detailed exercises to ensure that systems can be restored on time, that backups cannot be encrypted or corrupted by ransomware actors, and that backups contain all that an organization might need. Such features are helpful in preventing data loss, Business Email Compromise, and other malware ransomware.

Strategy 3: Focus on Data Security to Minimize Attacker Leverage and Reduce Blast Radius

By focusing on data loss prevention, organizations can reduce attackers' leverage by making it more difficult for them to access sensitive data and systems. This minimizes the blast radius of a cyberattack, limiting the damage that can be done to the organization's systems and data.

An encryption-in-use platform is a security solution that encrypts data while it is being processed or used by applications, databases, or other systems. An attacker cannot steal data that is not encrypted when an encryption-in-use platform is deployed. Traditional encryption methods typically only protect data at rest or in transit but do not protect it while authorized applications or users use it. This applies even if they are granted admin privileges to a database, server, or application. This combination of backup and recovery is very close to "ransomware immunity." 

Strategy 4: Multilayered Email Security is Critical for Your Business

Layering is critical to effective cybersecurity. Ransomware prevention requires a multilayered approach to ensuring you have a secure email and are protected from business email compromise. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, and so too should the tools preventing them. Your organization will have a comprehensive defense against ransomware if it has multiple tools in place, including a comprehensive, proactive email security software solution.

Arizona and Massachusetts Schools Targeted In Ransomware Attacks

On the morning of January 30th, schools in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Tucson, Arizona, were affected by the ongoing cyberattacks in the United States. A Tucson Unified School District spokesperson disclosed that they had "experienced a security incident with data," while the district could continue functioning, an investigation was initiated, and experts were hired to help with the remediation process.

A spokesperson for the company did not answer questions regarding whether it was ransomware. Still, local news outlets reported that staff found a letter from the Royal Ransomware Group stating that the district's data was being copied, stolen, and encrypted from over 49,000 people, both students and staff. According to local reports, the district called parents and sent an email to inform them that internet and network services had been shut down at several schools.

This incident, among countless others, highlights the value of understanding all the strategies that can be used for malware protection and preventing any type of ransomware attacks headed in your direction.

Keep Learning About Ransomware Prevention

The volume of ransomware attacks shows no signs of slowing. However, numerous processes are readily available to help mitigate the risks.

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