Why Ransomware Attacks Work and YOU SKILL Besides Pay the Ransom

Television and movies could have us believe cybercriminals need to execute complex plans that involve rappelling from rooftops and avoiding lasers to break right into our networks. The truth is, it takes merely a well-crafted email and a distracted person to start out a chain of events that may cost huge amount of money to correct. While that appears like a simple problem to resolve, multiple layers of security controls had a need to fail for the ransomware attack to achieve success. First, the e-mail had a need to bypass the spam and phishing filters to reach in the user’s inbox. With the vast amounts of spam messages created every day, the possibility of 1 or more getting during your defenses isn’t unreasonable. Next, the attachment or URL had a need to bypass the neighborhood antimalware software and the net security gateways to download the primary payload which also needed to be missed. And undoubtedly, the network-monitoring tools had to skip the malware spread since it infected other systems and encrypted files. The true point is, even though using simplified ransomware examples, a lot must fail for a ransomware attack to reach your goals, but which has not stopped ransomware attacks from learning to be a multi-billion-dollar industry. Considering that, let’s look at what’s happening beneath the covers during an attack and discuss some methods for you to improve your probability of early detection that don’t necessarily want to do with the security architecture.

 <h2>          <span id="Starting_with_phishing_emails_and_malicious_attachments">     You start with phishing emails and malicious attachments     </span>          </h2>     

Because the example above started with phishing emails and a user, let’s there start. Spam and phishing attacks have already been typically the most popular way cybercriminals have inserted malicious code into corporate networks for many years. Phishing emails have grown to be extremely convincing within the last few years. Searching for misspelled words or poor grammar remain valuable, but today’s spam looks and reads like legitimate messages. Most police agencies recommend training users to decelerate and think critically concerning the message they’re receiving is crucial to stopping cyberthreats from gaining usage of sensitive data. It’s been shown that allowing employees to feel they’re area of the solution will foster a shared sense of purpose and offer benefits security software can’t. For example, here’s a screenshot of a note I received.

 <div class="wp-block-image">          <figure class="aligncenter size-full">          <a href="https://www.infracom.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/phishing_email.png" data-wpel-link="internal" target="_blank" rel="follow noopener">          <img width="505" height="375" src="https://www.infracom.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/phishing_email.png" alt class="wp-image-150716 lazyload" loading="lazy" />          <img width="505" height="375" src="https://www.infracom.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/phishing_email.png" alt class="wp-image-150716" data-eio="l" />          </a>          </figure>          </div>     

This phishing email is indeed convincing as the attackers literally copied a genuine Amazon message to remove the telltale signs users have already been told to consider. There have been several small technical items that gave it away as spam, just like the email headers not from the right domain, however the biggest indicator was the treat it was delivered to isn’t connected with an Amazon account.  Again, slowing and thinking critically was an improved solution than buying more antimalware software.

 <h2>          <span id="How_ransomware_attacks_work">     How ransomware attacks work     </span>          </h2>     

The phishing attack managed to get to the user, plus they clicked a link. What goes on next?

 <h3>          <span id="Step_1_Infection">     Step one 1: Infection&nbsp;     </span>          </h3>     

This step should be called deployment because it involves the download and execution of a fully-functioning, malicious software that spreads laterally through the network to infect as much systems as possible. In cases like this though, the system that has been initially compromised could possibly be considered patient zero who brought the condition of malware in to the network and allowed it to spread. In this stage, it’s easy for the endpoint protection software to block the attack, but if it’s not detected, an individual may see a direct effect to the performance of these system.

 <h3>          <span id="Step_2_Staging">     Step two 2: Staging&nbsp;     </span>          </h3>     

After the malware payload has spread, it will commence to modify the operating-system to ensure persistence. Communication could also start out with a command and control (C2) network that may allow a negative actor to gain access to the network directly. Assuming the endpoint and network detection tools don’t discover the activity, you might see seemingly benign increases in network traffic and attempts to gain access to websites and systems on the net that aren’t commonly accessed.

 <h3>          <span id="Step_3_Scanning">     Step three 3: Scanning&nbsp;     </span>          </h3>     

Scanning may take many forms. Some ransomware will scan for specific file types to encrypt while some will concentrate on the storage arrays going for a wider brush to data discovery. Still others will scan for open ports and vulnerabilities that may be exploited within a far more direct action. Network traffic increase in this stage and network monitoring tools will dsicover a spike in traffic.

 <h3>          <span id="Step_4_Encryption">     Step 4: Encryption&nbsp;     </span>          </h3>     

After the ransomware has spread so far as it can or perhaps a specified timeframe has passed, the procedure to encrypt files will start. A user’s files which are stored locally could be encrypted almost immediately while files stored on the network could be limited by the speed of the os’s that get access to it. Having said that, given the speed of modern networks, you will see little to virtually no time to interrupt the procedure. Because the encryption process is going on, attackers may also commence to exfiltrate data to request multiple ransoms.

 <h3>          <span id="Step_5_Extortion">     Step 5: Extortion&nbsp;     </span>          </h3>     

Once you’ve lost access to your computer data, the attackers provides a ransom note that may explain your data has been held hostage and offer the amount and approach to payment (usually cryptocurrency) and a time period limit for the payment. The note may also outline what will eventually the encrypted data if the ransom isn’t paid. Interestingly, the ransomware attackers have adapted to the truth that not everyone knows how exactly to use cryptocurrency and also have begun to supply instructions for establishing a merchant account. Some have gone as far as to supply a support channel to greatly help victims with the procedure of paying the ransom. Theoretically, after the ransom is paid, the attacker will send the decryption key to revive usage of the encrypted files on the victim’s computer. The ransomware victim can also be promised that they can take away the ransomware and delete any stolen data.

 <h2>          <span id="What_can_you_do_to_reduce_your_risk_and_prevent_ransomware_attacks">     So what can you do to lessen your risk and stop ransomware attacks?&nbsp;     </span>          </h2>     

Companies have invested huge amount of money in security software, but we’ve seen how simply clicking a phishing email with questionable file attachments can easily escalate to a full-scale disaster. Knowing we can’t block all malware attacks, it’s vital that you look at what you can do to reduce the chance of a cyberattack and limit the damage that you can do. While it’s extremely hard to get another tool and call the issue solved, there are many actions you can take together with your current resources to boost your security posture.

 <h3>          <span id="Cyber_hygiene">     Cyber hygiene&nbsp;     </span>          </h3>     

After looking at a decade of ransomware statistics, some patterns have emerged that result in the necessity for better cyber hygiene. Most attacks have exploited poor password policies or perhaps a insufficient multi-factor authentication. The spread of ransomware could be linked to too little segmentation and poor access controls, and the attacks exploit unpatched vulnerabilities often. An instant fix is always to develop a strong password policy and offer customers with a password manager alongside education on how best to utilize it. Enabling multi-factor authentication where you can is a key element of most cyber plans and can significantly decrease the threat of unauthorized access.

Longer term, developing a patching schedule which includes the proper quantity of testing but is flexible enough to handle emergency issues can remove vulnerabilities from the network. This will include weighing (and documenting) the risks of the vulnerability verses applying a patch that could not need been fully tested.

Segmentation could be complicated by the organic growth of a business and perhaps requires an overhaul of the infrastructure. Done correctly at both network and application levels can limit the spread of ransomware and decrease the organization’s overall contact with attack. Needless to say, because of the dynamic nature of all organizations, plans ought to be set up to audit these controls frequently.

 <h3>          <span id="User_education">     User education&nbsp;     </span>          </h3>     

As we’ve discussed it takes merely a well-crafted email and a distracted person. Implementing a cybersecurity user awareness and training curriculum that includes help with how exactly to identify and report suspicious activity can go quite a distance to stopping attacks from starting. Conduct organization-wide phishing tests to gauge user awareness and reinforce the significance of identifying potentially malicious emails.

Following your vendor’s guidelines for hardening your environment ought to be standard practice. The U.S. government agencies like CISA have included a summary of general recommendations and checklists within their Ransomware Guide . Also, joining information-sharing groups might help you identify new methods to improve your protection.

 <h2>          <span id="Secure_backup_is_your_last_line_of_defense">     Secure backup can be your last type of defense     </span>          </h2>     

The most reliable solution to regain usage of your files would be to make sure you have secure backups for all you files. In order to avoid the worst-case scenario of paying the ransom, an idea is necessary by you set up that includes verified, tested and secure backups that may quickly be restored. Rapid, reliable recovery can be an integral area of the overall cybersecurity incident response process and should be thoughtfully planned out similar to the rest of one’s security architecture.

Needless to say, ransomware attackers can do anything to guarantee the backup files aren’t available and can exploit security holes in the backup infrastructure to be sure the only path to regain usage of your files would be to pay the ransom. Which means that even the backup systems can alert administrators if you can find changes to the schedule or the backup jobs.

 <div class="wp-block-image">          <figure class="aligncenter size-full">          <a href="https://www.infracom.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/ransomware_protection_secure_backup.png" data-wpel-link="internal" target="_blank" rel="follow noopener">          <img width="435" height="304" src="https://www.infracom.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/ransomware_protection_secure_backup.png" alt class="wp-image-150789 lazyload" loading="lazy" />          <img width="435" height="304" src="https://www.infracom.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/ransomware_protection_secure_backup.png" alt class="wp-image-150789" data-eio="l" />          </a>          </figure>          </div>     

 <h2>          <span id="Whats_next">     What’s next?     </span>          </h2>     

Ransomware scams soon aren’t going away anytime. It is way too easy and too profitable to carry data hostage on an infected system and also have a ransom demanded. Having said that, the forms of ransomware are needs to differ from screen-locking ransomware to multi-stage attacks that both encrypt files and steal them from infected devices. Mobile ransomware attacks are increasing aswell and demonstrate the evolution in attack methods is continuing and we as defenders have to stay vigilant to be sure we don’t end up being the next ransomware victims.