Being in the ransomware business must be very, very profitable. Why may you ask? I'll tell you why; a recent report from Digital Shadows says that bad guys are offering upwards of $10 million to anyone who brings them a previously undiscovered zero-day vulnerability. A particularly nasty offer for any Microsoft Windows 10 zero-day vulnerabilities is sitting at $3 million US.
Now, the bad guys aren't looking for just ANY zero-day vulnerability. They're looking specifically for no-click remote code executions, something rare, though not unheard of (recommended reading: Security7 CVE Coverage). Oftentimes these things are patched quite quickly, but that's only when discovered by above board cybersecurity researchers and white-hat hackers. What the bad guys are looking for exploits that haven't been discovered yet, and they're using the allure of cold hard cash to try and get them.
Unfortunately, there isn't any particular way to protect yourself from something like this. You can't see the future, nor can we. We don't know what we don't know, and there's a distinct possibility that someday, probably soon, a whopper of a zero-day, zero-click vulnerability will be discovered and it'll be used to bend some poor soul right over the barrel.
What you can do, is have a healthy and robust cybersecurity posture to try and mitigate the damage WHEN (not if) something happens to you. I say that not to scare you, just to let you know that it's ultimately inevitable.
All the scary stuff aside, here are 7 things you can do to help build a better, stronger cybersecurity posture:
- Implement a Security Awareness Training Program - Someone wiser than I once told me 'you can't stop or avoid what you're not prepared to handle.' That goes for ransomware attacks.
Most ransomware attacks are solicited through Social Engineering campaigns and are end-user initiated (i.e. you, a coworker, or employee). A good security awareness training program can help educate people and stop a ransomware attack before it can get a foothold in your IoT ecosystem.
- Email Inbox Security is Imperative - As stated above, a ransomware attack is usually end-user initiated. How? Typically via a malicious link or file embedded in an email. The attacker will trick their unsuspecting victim into clicking through and, well, it's all downhill from there.
By implementing things like DMARC or DKIM, or signing up for a service like Cyren's Office 365 Inbox Security platform, you can stop some of these attacks before human error becomes a part of the problem.
- Next-Generation End-Point Protection - Traditional endpoint protection products rely on outdated means of detection (like looking for specific signatures). Newer products like Blackberry Protect (formerly Cylance) uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to determine whether or not software that's trying to run on your machine is hazardous or not.
- Back-up your End-Points and Critical Data - This is a no-brainer. Even with the risk of a ransomware attack, you should be backing up your important data. A ransomware attack is only deadly to an organization if they don't have backups.
Ransomware attacks encrypt your end-points and demand a ransom (duh) from the victim to get the decryption key. If you've got air-gapped, regular backups you don't need to pay. You can simply restore your ecosystem to a period before it was infected. Just make sure backups are in a secure location, not normally connected to your network, and password protected.
- Whitelisting and Blocking the Known Bad - You've got a pretty good idea of what people in your organization should be looking at while they work, or what programs they use, or what devices can talk to over the internet. Take the time to whitelist approved applications and processes. Blocking the known bad goes hand in hand with whitelisting.
Now, I don't necessarily mean you should spend hours and hours blocking everything under the sun, or making sure your firewall's traffic policy is tighter than a frog's butthole, but you should take the steps to block traffic to and from countries known to be hazardous to an enterprise like Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, etc. You can check out this article if you want to learn more about that.
- Discover Leaked Credentials, Look for Exposed Super-Admins and Start Practicing the Principle of Least Privilege when it comes to Access Control - Pardon me, but we have to go back to human error and the part it plays in a successful ransomware attack, or for that matter, ANY kind of cybersecurity attack.
We humans, as a species, are terrible when it comes to credential management and good password hygiene. We stink at it. But the first step in changing that is by acknowledging it. To help with this, you might want to start by running a dark web scan on your email domain. If the scan does discover linked credentials take a good long look at the report and check it against your records to see what privileges those users might have.
The Principle of Least Privilege is the belief that people should have access to as little as possible beyond what they need to do their day-to-day tasks. That includes administrators and other high-ranking personnel.
- Make Sure you Monitor Your Files Around the Clock - Monitors your IT environment for changes to the critical OS, files, and processes such as directories, registry keys, and values. Watch for changes to application files, rogue applications running on the host and unusual process and port activity, as well as system incompatibilities.
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