Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is not a novel type of attack. Indeed, the first malware surfaced almost 30 years ago and was delivered using 5.25-inch floppy discs. The victim had to send money to a P.O. Box in Panama to pay the ransom.

Today, attackers have an endless number of avenues to enter businesses due to reliance on cloud and mobile technologies, and affordable ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) kits are available on the dark web for anybody to purchase and deploy.

The goal of a ransomware assault is to obtain access in a stealthy manner. Furthermore, because employees can now access your data from any location, you no longer have oversight into how they do so. You need constant insights into your users, the endpoints they use, and the applications and data they access to protect against these threats.

Lookout, a leading provider of endpoint-to-cloud security, has released an interactive infographic to help you understand how a ransomware attack works and how to safeguard your data. Lookout will use this blog to lay out 1) the environment that led to $20 billion in ransom payments in 2021, and 2) how you can safeguard your company from these ongoing threats.

Work from anywhere improves both productivity and attacker infiltration

While the spyware that holds your data hostage is known as “ransomware,” that is not the focus of your attention. Attackers require access to your infrastructure before they can deploy anything. Users today access data through networks and devices that you don’t control, rendering any on-premises security protections you had obsolete.

As a result, threat actors can easily execute phishing attacks to steal user credentials or exploit a vulnerable programme. Once on your network, they immediately install malware to create persistent backdoors that allow them to come and go whenever they want. It becomes practically impossible to stop them from moving around laterally and holding your data hostage if they raise privileges.

Step-by-step: how to protect against ransomware

Between an attacker gaining access to your infrastructure and demanding a ransom, there are several steps. The anatomy of a ransomware attack infographic outlines these processes, and here’s a high-level overview of what happens and how you can safeguard your company.

1. Block phishing attacks and cloak web-enabled apps

One of the simplest ways for attackers to get access is by phishing attempts that compromise user credentials. To prevent these attacks from harming both PC and mobile users, it’s vital to be able to examine web traffic on any device. This will prevent ransomware attackers from launching attacks by compromising accounts.

Threat actors will scour the internet for insecure or exposed internet-facing infrastructure. Many firms expose apps or servers to the internet to allow for remote access, but this implies that attackers can identify them and exploit vulnerabilities. A crucial protection strategy is to keep these programmes hidden. This allows you to move away from VPNs’ unrestricted access and ensure that only authorised users have access to the data they require.

2. Detect and respond to anomalous behaviors

If an attacker gains access to your network, they will start travelling laterally to do reconnaissance. This is done in order to discover more vulnerabilities and, ultimately, sensitive data. They could change your settings to lessen security permissions, exfiltrate data, and upload malware, among other things.

Some of these actions may not be malicious in nature, yet they can be deemed unusual. Understanding user and device behaviour, as well as segmenting access at the application level, becomes critical at this point. To prevent lateral movement, make sure no users have unrestricted access to your infrastructure and that they aren’t acting maliciously. It’s also critical to be able to detect excessive or incorrectly configured privileges in order to prevent modifications to your app’s and cloud’s security posture.

3. Render data useless for ransom with proactive encryption

A ransomware attack’s final step is to take your data hostage. The attacker might also exfiltrate some data to use as leverage, then erase or encrypt what’s left in your infrastructure, in addition to encrypting the data and locking off your admins.

When the attacker finally announces their presence, it is usually through exfiltration and impact. Changes they make to data, whether at rest or in motion, will raise alarm bells and lead to demands for payment. However, if that data is encrypted proactively by your security platform and rendered completely useless to the attacker, all of their efforts will be for naught. Encryption is an important aspect of any data loss prevention (DLP) plan, and using contextual data protection policies to trigger encryption can help you protect your most sensitive data.

Securing against ransomware: point products versus a unified platform

A ransomware attack isn’t a one-time occurrence; it’s a constant menace. You need a complete picture of what’s going on with your endpoints, users, apps, and data to safeguard your company. This ensures that you can identify and respond to lateral movement, block phishing attacks, and preserve your data even if it is stolen and held for ransom.

Historically, businesses have purchased new instruments to address new issues. However, with dangers like ransomware, this method will fail. While you may have some telemetry into your users’ access activities, the health of their corporate-owned device, and how your data is managed, your security team will be responsible for managing several consoles that don’t communicate with one another.

Lookout recognises the value of a platform approach and has developed the Security Service Edge (SSE) platform, which incorporates DLP, UEBA, and Enterprise Digital Rights Management (EDRM).

We help you to secure sensitive data while maintaining productivity with a platform that delivers integrated insights into everything that happens inside your organisation. The Gartner Magic Quadrant for SSE for 2022 recently rated Lookout’s SSE platform a Visionary. In the 2022 Gartner Critical Capabilities for SSE, Lookout was in the top three for all SSE use cases.

Download Lookout’s latest ransomware guide to discover more about crucial lessons you can learn from significant ransomware attacks in 2021, as well as how to secure your sensitive data.