Protect your digital data and workloads with a multifaceted defense against ransomware. Robust access management, ML-based detection and forensics, hardened security, and comprehensive data encryption are vital protection components.
Avoid exposing sensitive data to attackers with a zero-loss strategy built on zero-trust principles and best-in-class cloud archiving.
Table of Contents
Preventing Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks are a real threat to businesses, big and small. Attackers seize computer systems and block access to encrypted data until payment is made to restore the files. Attackers use many methods to target organizations, including phishing, malware attachments, and malicious links in spam emails. They can also exploit remote desktop protocol (RDP) vulnerabilities to infect a machine directly.
While there are no cyber defenses that eliminate risk, a layered approach can help reduce the chance of an attack and prevent the loss of critical data. For example, a robust monitoring application can detect changes to file status and send an alert when suspicious activity occurs. It can be particularly effective with ransomware solutions, UEBA, and other security tools.
It is also important to regularly back up data and store it offline or out of band. Also, It can minimize the impact of a ransomware attack by enabling you to roll back to previous unencrypted versions of your data. You should also test backup copies to ensure that they are working correctly.
Finally, training employees to recognize and respond to ransomware attacks is essential. Many companies require their employees to develop and test incident response plans. It includes developing a list of questions to ask themselves if they are threatened with a ransomware attack so they can react quickly and effectively.
Detecting Ransomware Attacks
A ransomware attack is a multistage cyber kill chain that requires multiple layers of protection to detect and stop. Ransomware attacks can be launched through insecure websites, software downloads, social engineering, or malicious email attachments and links. Once inside your network, ransomware can then spread through unauthorized lateral movement.
Detecting ransomware at the reconnaissance stage involves:
- Looking for viable breach opportunities by scanning ports or networks.
- Identifying systems or users.
- Gathering environmental intelligence.
Device security and micro-segmentation can effectively isolate compromised devices in the network so they cannot affect the rest of the environment.
Once you have a solid defense, you must ensure your backups function correctly and can be recovered quickly. To mitigate the risk of data loss, follow the 3-2-1 rule: 3 copies on two different media, with one copy stored offsite.
Using strong visibility across your entire infrastructure, you can gain insights into anomalous activity and identify suspicious patterns such as file executions, renamed files, and excessive API calls. It will help you determine if the activity indicates an incoming threat and act accordingly. When an impacted system is detected, you can disconnect it from the network by restricting access or powering down the system. Afterward, you can prioritize the restoration of systems based on productivity and revenue impact.
Managing Ransomware Attacks
Attackers have evolved ransomware attacks to make recovery difficult and costly for impacted organizations. They have added new techniques such as “double extortion” (i.e., encrypting data and threatening to release it publicly) to bolster their business model by adding additional revenue streams for themselves.
Malicious actors also have been known to tamper with evidence, such as data in system memory or Windows security logs and firewall logs, resulting in the loss of backups or decryption keys after an attack. To prevent this, it is vital to have timely detection, response, and remediation technology.
An EDR solution, such as Malwarebytes endpoint detection and response, delivers real-time detection, visibility, analysis, management, and protection for endpoints pre- and post-infection to stop ransomware before it starts. Additionally, it enables users to run and test backups to ensure they’re functioning.
Network segmentation can help contain an infection, separating it from the primary system. It helps prevent the malware from spreading to other systems within the organization and gives the team more time to isolate, remove, and recover impacted systems.
Implementing identity protection tools to understand on-premises and cloud identity stores, identifying gaps and anomalies for every workforce account (human users, privileged accounts, service accounts), and implementing risk-based conditional access can help defend against ransomware attacks. These solutions can also assist with analyzing logs and other threat intelligence for evidence of an attack, allowing organizations to react faster and mitigate damage.
Restoring Encrypted Data
When the ransomware encrypts files, it often deletes backup copies of those files, making recovery difficult without the decryption key. Some ransomware variants are also cautious in which files they encrypt to ensure system stability, while others are more aggressive and encrypt as much data as possible.
Fortunately, there are ways to recover encrypted files without paying the ransom. One way is to restore from a point-in-time backup. However, this is only feasible if your backups are clean and free from ransomware infection. A second option is to ask for help from digital forensics experts, who may be able to recover the files.
Another way to recover from a ransomware attack is to restore from an image-based backup. It is typically easier than restoring from a backup file, but it’s essential to verify the integrity of your backups and image-based images before you use them to recover.
Most traditional data protection strategies don’t hold up against ransomware attacks.