Why Traditional Security Solutions Aren’t Stopping Ransomware

In the last year, almost 40% of organizations with existing email phishing prevention and backup cybersecurity tools were hit by ransomware attacks. Traditional cybersecurity platforms are no longer enough to protect organizations against viruses and hacking attempts, as today's cyber threats are more prevalent, sophisticated, and destructive, requiring more robust security defenses.

More than 75% of companies surveyed in a recent study said they had tools for malware protection, data loss prevention, phishing attack detection, and data backup recovery. But a question arises: why are pre-existing tools insufficient to keep organizations from ransomware and other cyberattacks? This article will discuss common approaches to ransomware prevention, why they have yet to be able to provide a solution for businesses, and the features of an effective cyber and email security solution capable of keeping ransomware from successfully attacking your company.

What Are Five Traditional Approaches Businesses Use That Fall Short?

Traditional cybersecurity approaches leave companies vulnerable to the most common phishing attack types. There are many ways that organizations can try to prevent becoming victims of any type of ransomware, but not all approaches will provide an effective solution.

Approach 1: EPP/EDR Agents Can Only Protect Against Known Threats

Hacked Laptop. Cyber Security Virus Attack And BreachEndpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) help with endpoint threat protection on your devices, keeping them safe from security threats, such as known and unknown malware. Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) solutions can help you identify and respond to incidents that have managed to bypass your EPP and other security measures. EPP/EDR solutions can effectively stop ransomware when it is a known threat or employ malicious techniques. Unfortunately, malware techniques have improved and have the capability to bypass detection systems.

Approach 2: Phishing Training Is Not Enough

No matter how well-trained your anti-phishing and email security training may be, all of the hard work and training could go to waste with just one person. Education also tends to lose its relevance over time, and students do not always take it seriously. Only 60% of anti-phishing training students pass the phishing test. 

Approach 3: App Whitelisting Is Not Foolproof

IT organizations use application whitelisting, also known as "application allows listing," to protect their networks and infrastructure from malicious cyber attacks and unwelcome network penetration. In theory, you could restrict users to pre-approved sites and apps. However, this will result in a significant decrease in productivity. Your IT team will spend time exception handling, and your users will find ways around your controls. On top of this, attackers can still leverage signed, legitimate software. 

Approach 4: Browser Security Protections Are Limited

Browser security refers to the application of Internet Security to web browsers to protect networked data, computer systems, and computers from malware or privacy breaches. Browser security exploits use JavaScript, and sometimes, cross-site scripting (XSS) can be used with a secondary payload of Adobe Flash. The built-in security features of browsers can exploit some browsers, and the attack surface for browsers is growing. These browsers are essentially mini operating systems, are also targeted by attackers, and constantly search for zero-day attacks.

Approach 5: Content Disarming and Reconstruction 

cyber security Content Disarm & Reconstruction (CDR) are computer cybersecurity tools that remove malicious code from files and protect computers and their systems. Unlike malware analysis, CDR technology does not detect or determine malware's functionality but rather removes file components not approved by the system's policies and definitions. CDR attempts to remove potentially dangerous documents by trying to detonate them. This includes eliminating macros and scripts embedded in the documents. Such an approach only applies to certain documents and does not protect against malicious app installers, executables, websites, or peripherals. It can also delete some document functionality and corrupt certain documents.

Understanding How Ransomware Spreads

Ransomware is spread by getting access to a target computer, encrypting files, and finally demanding ransom from the victim. Although individual incidents may vary, the three common elements of ransomware attacks remain the same: infection vectors and data encryption. 

These are some of the most common ransomware phishing campaigns:

The Role of Social Engineering in Ransomware Attacks

Threat actors need to gain access to the network to launch attacks. In 2022, 78% of ransomware attacks started with an email. Before executing phishing attacks, cybercriminals attempt to establish a relationship with targets. Occasionally, multiple exchanges occur before malicious files or links are sent. Once attackers have gained the trust of their victims, they will send them a malicious attachment which will allow the hacker into a company network.

The Rise of Double Extortion

Cybercriminals can double extort your data by encrypting it and then analyzing it. They have a copy of your data and can identify ways to extort your company for as much money as possible. Data usually includes revenue, employees, industry, partners, clients, and customers. Attackers only need to take your most essential data to extort your company.

Triple Extortion Tactics

Triple extortion uses the compromised information of your employees, partners, and clients to harass them via email, texts, and phone calls. Ransomware attacks like these can cause damage to a company's reputation, image, or public relations. 60% of SMBs are forced to close down due to the inability to pay the ransom and lack of security measures.

Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security for Defense Against Ransomware

Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security can protect you from today's most sophisticated threats, including ransomware and zero-day attacks. With a multi-layered design and adaptive technology, Guardian Digital can defend against email threats with adaptive defenses that block and detect attacks in real-time and work together to offer greater email security services. EnGuarde’s layers comprise of:

Open-Source Community Input

Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security draws on all the global open-source community's resources, tools, and intelligence. EnGarde is a product of open-source development that allows for rapid updates, superior security, and resilience. This community-powered development model uses emails from millions of systems around the globe to identify patterns and run large-scale tests on spam and email filters. These tests are returned to Guardian Digital engineers for further analysis and incorporation into EnGarde.

Expert Managed Services and Accessible Support

Managed services are a crucial component of effective email security software that should be more noticed. Expert system monitoring, maintenance, and support can reduce administrative costs and increase security, resulting in a quick return on investment.

EnGarde is managed around the clock and staffed by security professionals who work with you to protect your company's reputation and users. Our security experts will work closely with you to identify your security requirements, monitor them for potential threats, and help you to pinpoint the people in your organization that could be affected by an attack.

Layered Email Authentication Protocols

EnGarde ShieldThe SPF, DKIM, and DMARC email authentication protocols are essential in preventing fraud and protecting sensitive information. SPF, DKIM, and DMARC work together to stop sender fraud and avoid email spoofing. These protocols operate as follows:

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework): validates the IP addresses of the sending mail servers to confirm that they are authorized to send email on behalf of a specific domain. SPF works by examining the DNS records of the sending domain to verify that the mail server IP address is included in a list of authorized servers.
  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): adds a digital signature to the email header to verify that an authorized sender sent the message and has not been tampered with during transit. DKIM uses public key encryption to generate a digital signature that the recipient's email server can verify.
  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance): works in combination with SPF and DKIM for email spoofing and phishing prevention by verifying that both SPF and DKIM checks have passed. Then, DMARC instructs the receiving email server to take action based on the policy specified by the sending domain owner. DMARC provides a way for domains to request reporting on email messages that have been delivered, failed, or processed through its authentication process.

By using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC together, email recipients can gain greater confidence that incoming messages are genuine, and senders can better protect their reputation and prevent email-based fraud.

Malicious Malware URL Scanner Protection

Businesses are most at risk from phishing. Malicious URL security is critical in blocking these costly, dangerous attacks. Guardian Digital malicious URL protection extracts links from Microsoft Office documents and PDFs. It performs a dynamic analysis of these files to identify malicious URLs that could lead to business email compromise.

Virus and Spam Protection

EnGarde has multiple layers of detection engines that can perform predictive virus and spam detection via heuristics analysis. This advanced threat protection technique scans emails for specific characteristics and behaviors that could be associated with spam emails. EnGarde's layers also include the SpamAssassin spam filtering framework. SpamAssassin will also quarantine emails it detects as spam, thus protecting the intended receiver.


After EnGarde's security technologies and features review a message, it can be deemed malicious or safe. All malicious mail is sent to quarantine, and only legitimate and safe mail can be delivered to the recipient to reduce the possibility of human error or poor security practices.

Burger Chain Hit By Ransomware

Five Guys, an American fast-food chain, was listed on the BlackCat (ALPHV) ransomware gang’s data leak site.

Five Guys RansomwareFive Guys' name was posted to the BlackCat's Blog back in February with a preview of the data that it allegedly stole by the threat actor. The gang's screenshot shows they could access bank statements, international payroll data, and recruitment information. Threat actors claimed this was the first data dump and hinted there would be more. Unfortunately, BlackCat hasn't indicated whether the victim was given a deadline for paying the ransom, and screenshots show that the stolen data dates back to 2021.

Five Guys has over 1700 stores worldwide and employs more than 5,000 people. Recently, Five Guys disclosed a breach, saying that malicious actors could have accessed sensitive employee data in September 2022. Understanding how to defend against ransomware attacks is vital to protecting your company, employees, and others with whom you interact.

Keep Learning About Ransomware Solutions

To prevent ransomware attacks, organizations must invest in prevention and detection systems to mitigate infiltration. This is only the first step, as attackers can still use stolen credentials to bypass these tools.

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