Ransomware Attacks Double: Prepare Your Organization for 2024’s Threats in 6 Steps

by UnderDefense

Nov 17, 2023

Max 10min read

Ransomware, once a relatively unknown type of cybercrime, has become a major threat to individuals and businesses alike. It may have devastating consequences both in terms of money and emotional distress. Let’s face it, we all depend heavily on the proper functioning of digital infrastructure across all sectors. So, threat actors see blocking access with ransomware as an easy ticket to a hefty payday. The bad news is that ransomware works, and it’s here to stay.

Recovering from a ransomware attack is a complex and time-consuming process that goes far beyond simply decrypting and restoring data. It requires rebuilding entire systems, addressing operational downtime, and has a significant impact on customers.

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The state of ransomware: attacks double

The situation with ransomware attacks is becoming increasingly concerning. The CyberEdge’s annual Cyberthreat Defense Report has found that in 2023, ransomware attacks affected more than 72% of businesses worldwide, continuing a five-year upward trend. This figure represents the highest reported percentage to date. 

The average ransomware payment in 2023

As stated in Zscaler ThreatLabz 2023 Ransomware Report, ransomware attacks surged by more than 37%. With the significant progress in AI, there is no sign of these attacks slowing down in 2024. So, it’s crucial for businesses to stay vigilant.

Who was the target for ransomware in 2023 

Unfortunately, considering the dynamics, any business is vulnerable to ransomware. So, it’s not a matter of if but when your organization will experience an attack. As anticipated, the business sector took the most hits in 2023, with construction, government, and media sectors topping the list.

Ransomware attacks is 2023 by industry

First, let’s clarify that before demanding ransom, attackers must infiltrate the victims’ systems and infect them with malicious software. So, the most common ransomware attack vectors are:

  • Phishing
  • Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and credential abuse
  • Exploitable software vulnerabilities
  • Malvertising
  • Drive-by downloads
  • Social engineering
  • Social media, and messaging apps

One of the widespread ransomware techniques is using double extortion, where attackers threaten to not only encrypt the victim’s data but also leak it online if the victim does not pay the ransom. Another one is targeting supply chain vulnerabilities where attackers target a vendor or supplier of a larger organization to gain access to the larger organization’s network.

78% of ransomware attacks include threats beyond encrypted data

The increasing number of ransomware attacks, driven by the profitability of these crimes, underscores the urgency of taking action to avoid significant financial, operational, and legal damages.

Why current security measures don’t work: The urgent need for better detection capabilities

You may be wondering why all that breaches and attacks still happen, while there are so many technologies and tools available on the market. Well, the truth needs to be told. Many companies have in-house SOCs, various security solutions installed, etc. So, what’s the problem here?

How SOC teams work now 

Most Security Operations Centers typically rely on endpoint security solutions that primarily focus on detecting known Indicators of Compromise (IOCs). The IOCs are artifacts or patterns derived from previously documented cyberattacks. However, this approach has limitations, as it primarily detects attacks that have been seen before and documented.

49% of security pros face ransomware daily

What SOC teams are missing 

Traditional SOC teams are overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of security alerts. They face challenges such as a lack of staff, limited visibility and automation, too many security tools, and alert fatigue. Identifying and responding to threats promptly is highly challenging under these circumstances.

That’s why more SOC teams recognize the need to go beyond the traditional model. They are adopting detection capabilities that leverage Indicators of Behavior (IOBs) to detect more subtle signs of an attack. IOBs encompass the chains of behaviors exhibited by human and machine entities, allowing for the identification of malicious activities that may not have been previously documented. By doing so, modern SOCs can detect attacks at their earliest stages before they escalate into major breach events. Adopting managed SOC services or even more comprehensive MDR services can further enhance your organization’s cybersecurity defenses.

In addition to modernizing your SOC team’s approach, it’s essential to ensure that your organization follows other fundamental rules to prevent ransomware. Below, you will find a list of key tips on how your company should handle ransomware and strengthen your cybersecurity in 2024.

6 things to do now to guard your business against ransomware attacks

1. Security awareness training for all employees  

Human error is a major contributor to data breaches, and sad but true, employees are the weakest link. According to Verizon’s Data Breach Report 2023, 74% of all breaches involve a human element, proving that people are more susceptible to mistakes and falling for phishing attacks.

Security awareness training is vital to protect your business from ransomware. It educates employees about various cyber threats, like phishing and suspicious downloads, enabling them to identify and respond to potential threats effectively. Fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness adds an extra layer of defense and significantly reduces the risk of ransomware. Last but not least, security awareness training must be conducted regularly.

2. Multi-factor authentication  

Multi-factor authentification
Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a crucial step in safeguarding your business against ransomware attacks. MFA enhances security by requiring users to provide multiple verification forms, like a code sent to a separate device or a fingerprint in addition to a password. This multi-layered approach makes it challenging for attackers to gain unauthorized access, even if one factor, such as a password, is compromised. Every business, regardless of its size, should seriously consider MFA to bolster its account and data protection.
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3. Tested and validated IR and recovery plan  

Incident response process

A tested and validated IR and recovery plan should cover the following areas:

  • Incident detection: How your organization will detect a cybersecurity incident.
  • Incident response: Actual steps to contain, investigate, and eradicate a cybersecurity incident.
  • Recovery: What your staff should do to restore systems and data after a cybersecurity incident.

However, keep in mind that creating an incident response (IR) and recovery plan is only half the battle. It’s equally important to test and validate it to identify weaknesses, provide training opportunities, and allow for necessary adjustments. Regular testing, at least annually, keeps the plan up-to-date and ensures your team is ready to act. Explore professional incident response services to enhance the effectiveness of your cybersecurity strategy. Consider incorporating penetration testing or ethical hacking services into your strategy for thorough evaluation and continuous improvement.

4. Better use of threat intelligence platforms  

The global threat intelligence market size 2022 vs 2027

Threat intelligence platforms (TIPs) like UnderDefense MAXI security-as-a-service platform are a valuable tool for businesses to improve their security posture. TIPs collect, analyze, and correlate data from various sources, providing companies with a comprehensive view of the threat landscape. But we don’t stop here, and with UnderDefense MAXI you gain additional benefits. In the event of a ransomware attack, the platform provides threat containment automation to prevent ransomware from spreading. Plus, you receive in-depth insights into the ransomware type and all the actionable context to make informed decisions quickly.

The mosc common automated security tasks

One of the best ways to use a TIP is to automate security processes like alert triage and threat hunting. UnderDefense MAXI also allows you to automate notifications in case of suspicious activities and receive them via Slack, MS Teams, and other solutions. By doing so, you can free up your in-house security teams and let them focus on more complex tasks, such as investigating and responding to high-priority threats.

Automations can reduce the cost of attacks

5. 24/7 monitoring and security tool consolidation  

Cyber threats do not adhere to a strict schedule. They can occur at any time, day or night. And who does protect your organization from 5 pm to 8 am? The need for continuous monitoring is undeniable, as it is one of a few ways to give cybercriminals less time to exploit vulnerabilities.

As a part of continuous monitoring, effective log management involves collecting, storing, and analyzing logs from various sources, such as servers, applications, and security devices.

Considering the evolving threat landscape, organizations rush to buy and integrate various security tools to protect their digital assets. These tools include Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions, firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and intrusion prevention systems (IPS). But all those disconnected tools don’t provide a unified, real-time view of corporate defenses, and security experts need to switch between dozens of consoles and correlate all the alerts manually. Such an approach is time-consuming and depressing. For a more streamlined and efficient solution, consider a managed SIEM service that offers comprehensive and unified security management.

Consolidating these tools along with 24/7 monitoring and log management within one platform like UnderDefense MAXI offers several advantages:

  • Continuous security monitoring
  • Enhanced threat detection and response
  • A comprehensive security view to spot suspicious activity in real-time
  • Lower risk of cyberattacks
  • Reduced costs associated with security incidents

6. Automated, continuous external risk assessment  

External risk assessment involves monitoring all digital assets exposed online to detect potential threats to an organization’s digital security instantly. What does that mean? For example, UnderDefense MAXI automatically analyzes your dark web appearance, non-compliant passwords, compromised user identities, and more. Additionally, the platform calculates your financial risks and potential loss caused by ransomware or other threats. This information allows organizations to do the following:

  • Dark web monitoring helps proactively detect if a company’s sensitive data or employee credentials are being traded or discussed on hacker forums.
  • Compromised user identity analysis shows if employees’ login credentials have been compromised and are at risk of being misused.
  • Leaked credentials monitoring helps quickly determine if their employees’ credentials are available online.

Admittedly, external risk analysis can be performed manually. In this case, analysts search for information about the organization on the dark web and other public sources. However, such an approach is costly and too often it offers limited results.

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Make your business ransomware-proof in 2024 and beyond

Ransomware remains a pervasive threat, and organizations worldwide increasingly invest in robust business ransomware protection measures to safeguard their critical data and operations. Cyber adversaries are continually evolving, and the rise of ransomware-as-a-service means attacks won’t decrease anytime soon. While the tips provided here are essential, remember that comprehensive protection goes beyond the basics.

By adopting proactive measures, promoting continuous education, and establishing a resilient security framework, you can step into 2024 well-equipped with awareness and caution and stay ransomware-resistant.

If you have any questions or concerns about your business ransomware protection, UnderDefense is here to be your trusted ally in protecting your digital assets. Don’t wait for an attack to strike. Contact us today to proactively secure your future.

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