What We've Learned About The Best Ransomware Protection
- by Justice Levine
If growth trends of ransomware attacks seen in 2022 are indicators of the future, security teams can expect to see this attack become even more popular in 2023. When it comes to ransomware, the most important factor to consider is your protection strategy against it.
In just the first half of 2022, the number of new ransomware variants increased by nearly 100% compared to the previous six-month period. Numbers showed that attacks have doubled in the past 12 months. This explosive growth in new 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, the techniques threat actors use remain mainly 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.
Ransomware Defense Strategies
Attempted attacks and data breach are inevitable, and organizations don't want to have to choose between losing their data or paying a ransom. Because of this, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your networks while also reducing the chance of your company being hit by ransomware. Doing this requires a multilayered security approach that includes network, edge, data center, and application controls as well as up-to-date threat intelligence.
You must not only implement the best security processes and tools, but also consider the importance of cybersecurity education in your mitigation strategy. It is a great 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 ransomware attacks. These are some of the most common problems security teams face as well as their organizations, which can make them more susceptible to cyberattacks:
- Inadequate cyber hygiene education among employees: human behavior is still a major factor in security incidents. Your organization could be at risk if employees are not 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 or insufficient policies regarding employee credentials can increase the chance that an organization will suffer a security breach. Nearly 50% of all attacks involve compromised credentials.
- Insufficient security monitoring processes and procedures: there is no single tool that can provide all the tools your security team requires to monitor and protect against cyber threats such as ransomware. You can manage the risk of your enterprise by using a layered security strategy.
- IT and security staff shortages: data indicates that cybersecurity skills gaps are a constant challenge for CISOs. How to retain and attract new talent, while ensuring that current members have the right training and upskilling opportunities.
Strategy 1: Stick to Strong Basics But Do Nothing Specific for Ransomware Defense
Many CISOs believe that basic security policies can prevent most attacks. Even if the majority can be avoided by executing the basics properly, there will still be attacks that get through. This approach is effective for companies with the following attributes:
- 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.
- 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. Backups allow companies to recover their systems without having to pay for decryption keys. They cannot stop other types of extortion, such as those that target stolen data. These solutions are only partial answers to the ransomware problem.
BCDR is a primary ransomware defense strategy as organizations that focus on it do a thorough job setting up backup and recovery services. It includes detailed exercises to ensure that systems can be restored in a timely manner, that backups cannot be encrypted or corrupted by ransomware actors, as well that backups contain all that an organization might need.
Strategy 3: Focus on Data Security to Minimize Attacker Leverage and Reduce Blast Radius
By focusing on data security, organizations can reduce the leverage attackers have by making it more difficult for them to access sensitive data and systems. This reduces 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 provides encryption of 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 while it is at rest or in transit, but do not provide protection while it is being used by authorized applications or users. This applies even if they are granted admin privileges to a database, server, or application. This combination with backup and recovery is very close to "ransomware immunity."
Strategy 4: Multi-Layered Email Security is Critical for Your Business
Layering is key to effective cybersecurity. Ransomware prevention requires a multi-layered approach to securing business email. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and so should the tools to prevent them. Your organization will have a comprehensive defense against ransomware if it has multiple tools in place, including a comprehensive, proactive email security solution.
Arizona and Massachusetts Schools Targeted In Ransomware Attacks
In January, schools in Nantucket and Tucson, Arizona, were affected by the ongoing cyberattacks in the United States. A spokesperson for Tucson Unified School District disclosed that they had "experienced a security incident with data" on the morning of January 30th. The district was able to continue to function, but 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. However, 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.
Tucson Unified School District has more than 42,000 students and employs approximately 7,000 people.
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 a number of schools.
Keep Learning About Ransomware Prevention
The volume of ransomware attacks is showing no signs of slowing, however, numerous processes are readily available to help mitigate the risks.
- Learn more about effectively protecting your business from ransomware.
- Learn more about an effective email security solution that understands the relationships you have with other people while gaining a deeper knowledge of the types of conversations you have with them.
- Prepare your business for cyberattacks to make sure employees stay safe online.
- Improve your email security posture to protect against attacks and breaches by following best practices.
- Keeping the integrity of your email safe requires securing the cloud with spam filtering and enterprise-grade anti-spam services.
- Get the latest updates on how to stay safe online.
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