How to Strengthen Your Ransomware Prevention Plan

Ransomware is still one of the most significant malware attack vectors today. Many employees still fall victim to ransomware, as email remains the main method of communication among businesses.

With such a significant challenge to stop these attacks, how can organizations strengthen their ransomware prevention plans? This article will discuss how to start a ransomware protection plan, strengthen an existing one, as well as the consequences of not having protective measures in place. 

How Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security Protects Against Ransomware Attacks

Proper preparation can dramatically reduce the impact and cost of an attack. An organization can minimize its vulnerability to email threats by adopting stronger practices, including:

Protect Email With Sender Authentication

One of the biggest email threats CEOs face today is impersonation attacks. Cyber attackers can create specially-crafted emails that use inherent vulnerabilities in the way email was designed to purport to be from the CEO or another person of interest in your company, potentially tricking them into believing the email was sent from the CEO when it was not.

To tackle this problem, SPF, DKIM, and DMARC were created as email security protocols.

While it's not a panacea, implementing these protocols together will help with the following:

  • Prevent unauthorized servers from sending emails using your domain name, reducing the risk of email impersonation attacks
  • Verify that the content of your emails has not been tampered with during transit, ensuring the integrity of your emails and protecting against email tampering attacks
  • Create policies that instruct recipient mail systems like Google and Microsoft on how to handle emails that were sent by unauthorized servers. This helps prevent malicious emails from reaching your recipients' inboxes and reduces the risk of email spoofing attacks.

When properly configured, these methods can help mitigate the impact of someone abusing a domain name or damaging the reputation of the sender with a partner or customer. They can also help improve email deliverability to the recipient's inbox and prevent email fraud by verifying the sender's identity and ensuring that the message was not tampered with in transit.

These are very technical procedures, but working with Guardian Digital to implement these methods will help to protect your company's email communications and safeguard your organization's sensitive information.

Prevention with Zero-Trust Is Key

Email security works to protect an organization's attack surface from cyber threats to gain unauthorized access to the network. Statistics show that more than over 90% of cyberattacks begin with phishing campaigns and 30% of phishing emails are opened. According to the 2022 DBIR, “locking down your external-facing infrastructure, especially RDP and Emails, can go a long way toward protecting your organization against ransomware.”

Zero-Trust strategies help protect against data breach of large scale both in a company's and customers' information, insecure email sharing, and misconfigured or exposed cloud services that expose intellectual property and misconfigured email sharing. This trend will only grow as cloud computing and integrations become more common, particularly since more data is stored on the cloud than on consumer devices or private servers.

Zero Trust Overview

Implementing a Zero Trust strategy to your email security program will increase anti-phishing capabilities. A zero-trust policy in email security can help protect internal and external networks. It also improves compliance and deliverability.

Because it isn’t always possible to predict an attack, and damages can be lasting and severe, ransomware insurance is another option to consider. This cyber insurance covers financial losses such as ransom fees or business interruption costs as a result of a ransomware attack. Ransomware insurance can be difficult and expensive for small businesses that cannot show that they have a strong ransomware and data security plan. If a company cannot show that they have a solid ransomware prevention program, cyber insurance providers may terminate a policy.

Invest in Fully-Managed Email Security Services

Businesses must have access to the latest security tools to protect their email from advanced threats. It is crucial to have a fully-managed email security system in place to guard against specific threats to each business. The system provides the expertise and support required to protect sensitive data and other assets in the modern digital threat environment. Your solution should include multiple layers of security that can detect and block threats in real-time and then build upon each other to offer greater protection.

Effective Prevention Requires Simulations and Threat Intelligence

email protectionSimulations and threat intelligence are two important components of an effective ransomware prevention strategy. Simulations for ransomware prevention involve creating realistic scenarios that simulate a ransomware attack and testing an organization's response to it. These simulations can help organizations identify any weaknesses in their security defenses and improve their response to a real attack. Simulations can also be used to train employees on how to recognize and respond to ransomware attacks, which can be critical in preventing the spread of malware.

Threat intelligence involves gathering information on the latest ransomware threats, including the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by threat actors. This information can be used to inform an organization's cybersecurity strategy and help them prepare for potential ransomware attacks. Threat intelligence can also help organizations identify vulnerabilities in their systems and applications that could be exploited by ransomware.

The Cost of Ransomware

According to the 2022 DBIR, about two-thirds of breaches involved phishing, stolen credentials and/or ransomware. Ransomware was involved in 25% of all breaches. The majority of all attacks involve ransomware in some way, usually beginning with a phishing attack, and often don’t even involve a ransom, only extortion.

In February 2022, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) reported that it was aware of ransomware attacks against 14 of 16 U.S. critical infrastructure sector sectors. The assets, systems, and networks of these infrastructures are considered vital to the nation's security, and the incapacitation or destruction of any of these sectors would have a debilitating effect on national security, economic security, public health, or safety. 

The rise in ransomware variants can be attributed to several factors such as the increasing availability of ransomware as a service (RaaS) on the dark web, which allows cybercriminals with little or no experience to launch ransomware attacks. Another factor is the development of new techniques and tools by cybercriminals, including the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to create more sophisticated and targeted attacks.

Additionally, the shift to remote work has created new IT vulnerabilities, which cybercriminals are exploiting with ransomware attacks. Furthermore, the use of cryptocurrency for ransom payments has made it easier for cybercriminals to remain anonymous and evade law enforcement.

Russian Ransomware Attack Targets Royal Mail

Royal Mail news headlineIn January, ransomware linked with Russian criminals caused severe disruption to Royal Mail's overseas delivery. The organization advised customers to not send international parcels or letters until the problem is resolved. According to a source, Lockbit was the ransomware used in this attack.

BBC received a ransom note from the cybercriminals to Royal Mail, stating "your data have been stolen and encrypted." Although the ransom demand is likely to reach millions, sources close to the investigation claim that there are "workarounds” to restart the system.

This attack was considered particularly concerning because Royal Mail is considered "critical national infrastructure", which is crucial to the UK's economy and does not affect just one company or its customers, but also affects communications and businesses of citizens both at home and abroad.

Royal Mail spokeswoman declined to confirm whether the attack was ransomware but reiterated to customers that disruptions in delivery are possible. According to the company, delays could occur for customers who have already sent items overseas before the incident.

A spokesperson for the National Crime Agency stated that it was aware of an incident impacting Royal Mail and was working with the National Cyber Security Centre to assess its impact.

Keep Learning About Ransomware Prevention

When it comes to ransomware, prevention is better than remediation, and implementing the email protection required to prevent these attacks is a necessity for businesses. Failure to adopt best cybersecurity practices can result in severe and lasting damages, or even permanent closure. 

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