October 10, 2022 | Reading time 5 minutes

Ransomware Prevention Tips for Large Businesses

Ransomware is a significant threat to organizations worldwide. Hackers are using ransomware to infect enterprise environments, steal data, and encrypt critical data. Moreover, new techniques and dark web activities have made ransomware accessible to threat actors everywhere and even more sinister. With the proliferation of ransomware threats, businesses everywhere need to bolster their cybersecurity posture to protect their critical data. Let’s look at ransomware prevention tips that can help prevent ransomware attacks.

Why ransomware is such a huge problem for organizations

What kind of problem is ransomware today? Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that costs from cybercrime activities, including ransomware, increasing 15 percent per year over the next five years. By 2025, the costs will total $10.5 trillion. In 2020 alone, there were around 300 million ransomware attacks, and about 3/4 of these were successful.

It is worth noting why the risk of ransomware has exploded as it helps prioritize protecting critical cloud data and the need to do so. Why has the threat of ransomware escalated to the point we see today? It is mainly due to a couple of reasons. Please consider the below:

  • Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS)
  • Initial Access Brokers (IABs) 

Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS)

If one development has proliferated ransomware attacks, it is the appearance of Ransomware-as-a-Services (RaaS). Ransomware groups looking to provide even more revenue streams for their activities have created the concept of Ransomware-as-a-Service. 

RaaS provides attackers of all skill levels access to a readily available ransomware solution ready to attack an organization. Ransomware-as-a-Service delivers a solution akin to Software-as-a-Service solutions, such as Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. However, with Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, the underlying infrastructure is abstracted from the consumer. As a result, they don’t worry about which servers and network resources are required to run the SaaS services.

Similarly, RaaS abstracts the underlying complexities of the ransomware solution from the threat actor consuming them. Consider how RaaS has increased ransomware attacks. Even relatively novice attackers can now access robust and cutting-edge ransomware solutions with the latest features. 

They no longer have to develop and provision the underlying infrastructure required for launching the attack, exfiltrating data, encrypting data, and collecting the ransom payment. Instead, all of this is taken care of for them. Unfortunately, it brings ransomware to the masses and is bad news for organizations already fatigued with the myriad of other cybersecurity and compliance challenges. 

In return, the ransomware groups running the RaaS solution take a percentage of the ransom payment collected from a successful attack, further helping to fund other nefarious activities. 

Initial Access Broker (IABs)

Another development on the dark web proliferating ransomware attacks is the Initial Access Broker (IAB). Part of the challenge facing cybercriminals is gaining initial access to an environment to carry out an attack. A sinister development on the dark web is the evolution of a service called Initial Access Brokers (IABs) 

These are individuals or groups that steal, leak or harvest the credentials of an organization’s users and sell this access on the dark web. Generally, the higher the privileges of the stolen credentials and the larger the organization, the more the IAB stands to make from the sale. Ransomware-as-a-Service and Initial Access Brokers provide a literal ala carte offering on the dark web, allowing attackers to have everything they need to easily and quickly launch an attack, including the required credentials for the initial compromise of the environment. 

Ransomware prevention tips to prevent potential ransomware attacks

What tips can organizations follow to help prevent potential ransomware attacks? Note the following ransomware prevention tips and how they can help to bolster your cybersecurity posture against attack.

  1. Secure remote access solutions
  2. Use two-factor authentication
  3. Patch critical systems regularly
  4. Limit third-party cloud SaaS apps
  5. Leverage proactive ransomware protection

1. Secure remote access solutions

One of the most common entry points for ransomware attacks is remote access solutions. For example, the significant ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline involved compromised VPN credentials. Time and again, attacks compromise insecure or vulnerable remote access technologies. 

Tip: Ensure remote access solutions are secured with two-factor authentication and strong passwords

  • Two-factor authentication significantly improves the cybersecurity posture of remote access and other systems
  • Ensure remote access solutions are deployed according to vendor best practices
  • Keep these patched

2. Use two-factor authentication

Leaked credentials are often used in launching ransomware attacks. Initial Access Brokers (IABs) use compromised passwords to provide ransomware groups with the access needed to carry out an attack. The additional authentication factor tremendously increases security. In addition, even if an attacker has a compromised password, they still do not have all the elements needed to authenticate successfully.

Tip: Ensure all remote access solutions and Internet-facing applications are secured with two-factor authentication

  • Generating one-time passwords with an authenticator app is more secure than receiving these through text
  • Educate users about the dangers of “MFA fatigue,” where an attacker sends many push requests to an end-user in hopes a user will mistakenly grant access. 

3. Patch critical systems regularly

Patching critical systems is a necessary part of a strong cybersecurity posture. Unfortunately, attackers are more commonly targeting known vulnerabilities and zero-day exploits. By regularly patching essential systems with the latest security and other updates, organizations help to close off as many of these holes as possible before an attacker can exploit them.

Tip: Have a regular patch schedule where updates are deployed to critical business systems, especially those that are Internet-facing

  • Test and regularly implement the latest security patches
  • Take advantage of cloud-based solutions that are “evergreen” and continuously updated to help alleviate the maintenance burden

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4. Limit third-party cloud SaaS applications

Many may not consider their cloud SaaS environments when thinking about protecting themselves from the threat of ransomware. However, cloud-based ransomware is evolving and becoming more prevalent as attackers follow the trend of organizations shifting critical services and data to cloud SaaS environments. 

Third-party cloud SaaS apps allow extending cloud SaaS functionality. However, without proper risk assessments and guardrails, users can quickly become involved in Shadow IT by installing unsanctioned apps or malicious or “leaky” third-party applications. Attackers use phishing attacks to coax users into installing malicious third-party apps that may contain ransomware.

Organizations need to control which apps can be installed and perform rigorous risk assessments of those third-party apps they choose to allow in their cloud SaaS environments. 

Tip: Enforce controls over which third-party applications users can install in the cloud SaaS environment. Use automated risk assessment solutions to assess third-party app risk properly.

  • Create allow lists and block lists of third-party cloud SaaS apps
  • Use cybersecurity automation for handling risk assessments using artificial intelligence and machine learning

5. Leverage proactive ransomware protection

Look for cybersecurity solutions that provide proactive ransomware protection. Next-generation solutions can use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to quickly and proactively stop a ransomware attack. With the sheer span and depth of cloud SaaS services and data, cloud SaaS environments need to leverage proactive solutions to help contain and stop ransomware attacks from infecting critical data.

Ransomware Prevention Tips to prevent potential ransomware attacks

A proactive approach also helps curtail double extortion’s effects, where malicious processes first leak data from the environment before encrypting it.

Tip: Use proactive next-generation ransomware protection leveraging technologies like AI and ML to fight ransomware

  • Backups are not enough to protect against double extortion
  • Proactive protection is essential to help prevent the effects of ransomware

Proactive ransomware protection with SpinOne

SpinOne enables organizations to have the technical capabilities and features needed to protect and secure cloud SaaS data to meet the challenge of ransomware. With SpinOne, you get:

  • Proactive ransomware protection
  • Cybersecurity automation
  • Cloud-to-cloud backups
  • Third-party app control
  • Automated cybersecurity risk assessments for cloud SaaS apps
  • Visibility and monitoring of cloud SaaS activities, data, and security

If you would like to speak with a Spin Solution Engineer to discuss how SpinOne can help you meet your ransomware protection challenges, click here to book a demo: Request a Demo of SpinOne

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