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A Guide to Understanding and Preventing Ransomware Attacks on Your Business




Ransomware attacks are a severe threat to businesses worldwide. These cybercrimes involve hackers encrypting an organization's data and demanding payment for its release. The consequences of such attacks can be devastating, disrupting operations and causing significant financial losses and reputational damage. Unfortunately, recent trends have shown a disturbing increase in the frequency and severity of ransomware incidents.


In fact, the third quarter of 2023 saw a record-breaking 1,420 cases of ransomware attacks, surpassing the previous quarter's numbers. This surge in attacks highlights the urgent need for businesses to take proactive measures to prevent such incidents.



The United States is the most targeted country for ransomware attacks, with the business services sector being the most frequently attacked. Therefore, companies must prioritize cybersecurity measures to safeguard their assets and ensure business continuity. Understanding the various ransomware attacks and taking preventive measures is essential to protect your business.

Understanding Ransomware Attacks

There are different variations of ransomware attacks, each having its unique way of operating and causing damage. Let's take a look at some of the frequently encountered types.

Crypto Ransomware

Cybercriminals deliver malware to a user's device, encrypting data and leaving a ransom note with attackers' contact details. The ransom is usually demanded in cryptocurrency, and cybercriminals may offer to restore a small file for free to prove they have the decryption key.

Locker Ransomware

This simple yet devastating computer virus uses AES encryption and can demand a $300 ransom to retrieve files. Despite recent advancements, there are still variants of the virus. Typically, Locker encrypts files, opens a window with the ransom and infection details, and demands an initial ransom of 0.1 bitcoins. Security awareness training and increased security monitoring are the only viable options to stop the virus.

Scareware

This cyberattack tactic infects users' computers or downloads malicious software. It can be in pop-up ads or spread through spam email attacks. The malware aims to steal personal data from the user, while the software provides a quick fix. Hackers use the stolen data to expand their criminal enterprise, primarily focusing on identity theft.

Doxware (or Leakware)

This ransomware assault involves the hacker threatening to release private, confidential, or personal data obtained from the victim's device unless a ransom is paid. This attack exploits the victim's fear of public exposure or harm to their reputation to force them to pay the ransom.

RaaS (Ransomware as a Service)

There is also a rise in a new business model where ransomware developers provide their malicious software as a service. Even individuals without hacking expertise can attack using ready-made ransomware tools.


Double Extortion Ransomware

This type of cyberattack goes beyond just encrypting the victim's data. In addition to preventing access, the attacker also takes sensitive information. They then use this stolen data as leverage, threatening to make it public or sell it unless a ransom is paid. This method puts even more pressure on the victims, who must worry about recovering their encrypted files and the potential consequences of their confidential information being exposed or misused.


Mobile Ransomware

This occurs when smartphones and tablets are held hostage by locking or encrypting files. The attackers then demand a ransom for unlocking or decrypting the files. They achieve this by exploiting vulnerabilities in mobile operating systems and spreading through malicious apps or compromised websites.


Stay on Guard Against the New Wave of Ransomware Threats


Rhysida Ransomware Group

Rhysida is a new ransomware-as-a-service group that emerged in May 2023. They use phishing attacks and Cobalt Strike to breach networks and deploy payloads. The group threatens public distribution of exfiltrated data if a ransom isn't paid. Victims are distributed across Western Europe, North America, and Australia, targeting education, government, manufacturing, technology, and healthcare sectors.


3 AM Ransomware Variant

Rust-written 3 AM ransomware, a new addition to the ransomware family, has been spotted in a single attack by a ransomware affiliate. It targets multiple services on the infected machines before encrypting files and wiping out Volume Shadow copies. The origin of its creators is unknown, and it's named after the extension .threeamtime.


Preventing Ransomware Attacks

Here are some tips to prevent ransomware attacks based on the #StopRansomware Guide from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).


1.Maintain Offline, Encrypted Backups

Regularly assess the availability and integrity of offline, encrypted backups of critical data​​.


2. Cyber Incident Response Plan

Develop and regularly exercise a cyber incident response plan, including response and notification procedures for ransomware incidents​​.


3. Implement Zero Trust Architecture

Apply granular access control and assume the network could be compromised​​.


4. Limit Exposure of Remote Services

Avoid exposing services like Remote Desktop Protocol on the web. If necessary, use appropriate controls to prevent abuse​​.


5. Regular Vulnerability Scanning

Conduct regular scans to identify and address vulnerabilities, especially on internet-facing devices​​.


6. Software and OS Updates

Keep software and operating systems up to date with the latest versions​​.


7. Configure and Secure Devices

Ensure proper configuration and enable security features on all devices, including BYOD devices​​.


8. Limit Use of Remote Desktop Services

Apply best practices if Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is necessary, and secure VPNs and remote services​​.


9. Implement Phishing-Resistant MFA

Use multi-factor authentication, especially for critical systems and email​​.


10. Cybersecurity User Awareness Training

Train users to identify and report suspicious activities like phishing​​


11. Automatic Antivirus and Anti-malware Updates

Use centrally managed antivirus solutions and configure them for automatic updates​​.


12. Advanced Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Include training on advanced forms of social engineering and repeat regularly​​.


13. Risk Management for Third Parties/MSPs

Assess the cyber hygiene practices of third-party service providers​​.


14. Comprehensive Asset Management Approach

Manage and secure IT assets effectively, including offline backups and hard copies of documentation​​.


15. Principle of Least Privilege

Apply this principle to all systems and services to limit access based on user roles​​.


16. Update and Harden IT Infrastructure

Regularly update and secure hypervisors, network, and storage components, especially against emerging ransomware strategies targeting VMware ESXi servers and other centralized systems​​.


17. Leverage Cloud Environment Best Practices

Enable security settings in cloud environments and understand the shared responsibility model for asset protection​​.


18. Mitigate Malicious Use of Remote Access Software

Regularly audit and monitor remote access and RMM software and block unauthorized use​​.


19. Network Segmentation and Documentation

Use network segmentation to contain intrusions and maintain updated network diagrams​​.


20. Restrict PowerShell Usage

Limit PowerShell access to specific users and ensure logging is enabled for monitoring activities​​.


21. Secure Domain Controllers (DCs)

Regularly update and patch DCs, restrict access, and implement privileged access management solutions​​.


22. Log Management and Security

Retain and secure logs from network devices, local hosts, and cloud services, using centralized log management for effective triage and remediation of cybersecurity events​​.


23. Establish Network Traffic Security Baseline

Regularly assess network traffic for anomalies and update processes and procedures for security staff and end-users​​.


Adopting these measures to reduce the probability of ransomware attacks and ensuring your organization is well-equipped to handle any possible incidents is essential.


Conclusion and Key Takeaways

Ransomware attacks are becoming a bigger and bigger problem for businesses. The number of ransomware incidents is increasing rapidly, with a record-breaking 1,420 cases in Q3 2023. This highlights the urgent need for businesses to strengthen their defenses. They are happening more often and are getting more sophisticated, so it's essential for companies to be extra careful and have strong cybersecurity measures in place. To protect against these attacks, businesses need to have a variety of defense strategies. 

Everleap's Role in Ransomware Defense

With the increasing cyber threats, Everleap can serve as a partner for businesses looking to strengthen their cyber resilience. Everleap provides a wide range of services that offer robust solutions. Their approach covers:


  • Resilient Backup Solutions: Everleap maintains off-premises, encrypted backups, an essential defense against data loss during ransomware attacks.

  • Advanced Cybersecurity Frameworks: Striving for a Zero Trust Architecture and regular vulnerability scanning, Everleap helps businesses minimize the risk of breaches.

  • Incident Preparedness: They help develop cyber incident response plans and equip organizations to respond effectively to ransomware threats.

  • Employee Training and Awareness: Everleap emphasizes the importance of cybersecurity training, equipping staff with the knowledge to identify and respond to potential threats.

  • Infrastructure Security: They guide securing and updating IT infrastructure, making it more resilient against ransomware attacks targeting critical systems.


Ransomware poses a significant risk to the continuity of businesses and the security of data. Companies must adopt a proactive stance toward cybersecurity. Everleap is a reliable partner in this endeavor, offering advanced solutions and knowledge that empower businesses to avoid cyber threats. By adopting the suggested preventive measures and leveraging Everleap's capabilities, companies can significantly enhance their preparedness for even the most severe circumstances, protecting their operations and reputation.



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