Why Traditional Security Solutions Aren’t Stopping Ransomware

Almost 40% of organizations that have existing security prevention and backup tools were still hit by ransomware attacks in the last year. Traditional cybersecurity products are no longer enough to protect organizations against viruses and hacking attempts as today’s cyber threats are more prevalent, more sophisticated, and more destructive, requiring more robust security defenses.

More than 75% of companies surveyed in a recent study said they had tools in place for data protection, prevention and detection, and data backup and recovery. This begs the question: why are pre-existing tools not enough to keep organizations from ransomware and other cyberattacks? This article will discuss common approaches to ransomware prevention, why they haven’t been able to provide a solution for businesses and highlight the features of an effective security solution capable of preventing ransomware from successfully attacking your company.

5 Traditional Approaches Businesses Use That Fall Short

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

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

Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) help protect your endpoint devices 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 be effective in stopping ransomware when it is a known threat or employ techniques that are obviously malicious. Unfortunately, malware is improving and can be used to bypass detection systems.

Approach 2: Phishing Training Is Not Enough

No matter how well-trained your anti-phishing training may be, training can be undone by one person. Education also wears out. 40% of anti-phishing training students still fail to pass phishing tests. 

Approach 3: App Whitelisting Is Not Foolproof

IT organizations use application whitelisting, also known as "application allowlisting", to protect their networks and infrastructure from malicious cyber attacks and unwelcome network penetration. In theory, you could restrict users to sites and apps that are pre-approved, 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. Sometimes, cross-site scripting (XSS), with a secondary payload of Adobe Flash is used. Some browsers can be exploited by the built-in security features of 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 days.

Approach 5: Content Disarming and Reconstruction 

ransomware protectionContent Disarm & Reconstruction are computer security tools for removing malicious code from files, and is a technology that can be used to protect computers. CDR technology, unlike malware analysis, does not detect or determine malware's functionality. It removes any file components that aren't approved by the system's policies and definitions. CDR attempts to remove potentially dangerous documents by trying to detonate them. This includes removing macros and scripts embedded in the documents. This approach is only applicable to certain types of documents and does not protect against malicious app installers or executables, websites, and peripherals. It can also delete some document functionality and corrupt certain documents.

Understanding How Ransomware Spreads

Ransomware is spread by first getting access to a target computer, then encrypting files, and finally demanding ransom from the victim. Although individual incidents may vary, the three elements that are common to ransomware attacks include infection vectors and data encryption. These are some of the most common ransomware 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, attackers attempt to establish a relationship with targets. Occasionally, there are multiple exchanges before any malicious files or links are sent. Once attackers have gained the trust of their victims, they will send them a malicious file or link to allow them 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 will usually include revenue, employees, industry, and partners, as well as clients and customers. In order to extort your company, attackers will only need to take your most important data.

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 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’s EnGarde Cloud Email Security for Defense Against Ransomware

Guardian Digital’s EnGarde Cloud Email Security can protect 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 in real-time and work together to offer greater security. The layers that comprise EnGarde include:

Open-Source Community Input

Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security draws on all the resources, tools, and intelligence that is available from the global open-source community. 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 filters. These tests are then sent back to Guardian Digital engineers for further analysis and incorporation into EnGarde.

Expert Managed Services and Accessible Support

Managed services are a crucial component of an effective email security system that is often overlooked. Expert system monitoring, maintenance, and support can reduce administrative costs, increase security, and lower costs, 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 prevent spoofing of email messages. Each of these protocols work by:

  • 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 the message was sent by an authorized sender and has not been tampered with during transit. DKIM uses public key encryption to generate the digital signature that can be verified by the recipient's email server.
  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance): works in combination with SPF and DKIM to prevent phishing and email spoofing by verifying that both SPF and DKIM checks have passed, and then 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 URL Protection

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

Spam & Virus Protection

EnGarde has multiple layers of detection engines that can perform predictive spam and virus detection via heuristics analysis. This advanced technique scans emails for specific characteristics and behaviors that could be associated with spam emails. EnGarde's layers also include the SpamAssassin spam filter framework. EnGarde will quarantine any email that SpamAssassin detects as spam to prevent it from reaching its intended recipient.


After a message is reviewed by EnGarde's security technologies and features, 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 by the BlackCat (ALPHV), ransomware gang on its 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 screenshot that the gang took shows that they were able to access bank statements, international payroll data, and recruitment information. Threat actors claimed that this was the first dump of data, and hinted that there would be more. BlackCat hasn’t indicated whether the victim was given a deadline for paying the ransom, however, the screenshot indicates that the stolen data dates back to 2021.

Five Guys have over 1700 stores around the world and employ more than 5,000 people. Recently, Five Guys disclosed a breach, saying that malicious actors could have accessed sensitive employee data in September of 2022. 

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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