Rise in Ransomware: Exploring the Driving factors

Ransomware attacks continue to dominate headlines with groups like 'Lapsus$' and 'Conti' popping up frequently in a constant barrage of alarming stories. There is always a new attack or development in ransomware that keeps cybersecurity professionals on their toes. Ransomware attacks have taken over as the most effective means for cyber assailants to use and exploit access to highly sensitive information for illegal gains.

Reasons Behind the Rise in Ransomware Attacks:

Compromised Credentials 

The most common way to steal data is by compromising passwords. According to Verizon, 81% of all cybercrime has stolen or guessed credentials as a starting point, a huge vulnerability for all organizations.

With just a username and password, you will never truly know the real identity of who is using them. Hackers will target both weak and already compromised passwords when acquiring entry into a system, device or network.

How to Respond: One of the best ways to keep your information safe is by using multi-factor authentication methods and stronger antivirus protection while also making sure that you're practising smarter password habits elsewhere.

Application Vulnerabilities 

Remember the REvil ransomware digital supply chain hack in July 2021? In this incident the ransomware gang exploited vulnerabilities in a public-facing internet application and used it to spread malware to thousands of supply chain partner organizations. Equally dangerous was the PrintNightmare vulnerability that affects the Microsoft Windows Print Spooler Service. This has the potential to allow an attacker to control a compromised computer.

Application zero-day vulnerabilities likes these present a top attack vector that is being exploited by ransomware groups.

How to Respond: Patch management should be a high priority for every online business.

Risk-based vulnerability management is the key to identifying vulnerabilities that are most likely to be exploited and taking immediate action. If you are experiencing issues with vulnerability management, switch to fully managed security service (MSP) providers like Indusface. The MSP continues to operate 24/7 and manages the digital risks.

Human Element 

It is not surprising that the human element was associated with most data breaches in recent years. The Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) revealed that more than 80% of data breaches resulted from human error, social attacks, misuse or a combination of these.

In short, if you discover that a hacker gained access to your organization’s system, that does not necessarily mean there was a security problem with your company’s network. It could be because people click on malicious URLs or share sensitive information in public places.

How to Respond: It is the responsibility of organizations to take measures to educate themselves and their staff about some common ways that threat actors use to gain access to sensitive information. Here, employee training is vital.

Phishing 

To launch a ransomware attack, cyber-criminals frequently use phishing emails or spear-phishing emails that claim to be from a business partner, client or other known contacts. It is reported that 99% of email attacks rely on human input to succeed, meaning phishing attacks are the most significant factor in malicious hacking campaigns.

How to Respond: If you are looking for ways to boost or improve your cybersecurity programs, you can start by:

  • Ensuring network and computer updates occur
  • Putting systems in place, such as two-factor authentication
  • Using encryption wherever possible
  • Educating your workforce about threats

Botnets

A botnet is a cyber-attack mechanism that allows a hacker to control several malware-infected and internet-connected devices/computers at the same time. This network of devices can be controlled remotely, with the command-and-control server sending instructions to the group.

Some botnets have been used as initial access points for some ransomware threats, including attacks from the Conti gang.

How to Respond:

  • Detect and analyze traffic anomalies
  • Block bots instantly with bot management solutions
  • Implement rate limiting

Ensure Your Company is Prepared

You are not alone in your fight against viruses, bots, spam and all the unwanted software you cannot control. The best way to prevent ransomware attacks is to install measures on all application systems and network equipment to protect the network from harm before hackers can infect it.

One solution which is a viable option for preventing a site or app from being compromised by malware or other cyber threats is the Web Application Firewall (WAF).

A fully managed WAF is designed to protect your web applications from various vulnerabilities that scanners may be unable to detect effectively. A WAF has two primary functions:

  1. Protecting your site from bad traffic or a DDoS attack
  2. Helping to validate that the visitors you get are person rather than machine-generated.

New threats can outsmart outdated security solutions, so innovative businesses should look for more advanced technological solutions that deliver the most secure environment for users, customers and the business. 

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