Your Organization Could Be The Next Target For Ransomware – Chuck Leaver

Written By Dr Al Hartmann And Presented By Ziften CEO Chuck Leaver


Ransomware that is customized to business attack campaigns has actually emerged in the wild. This is an obvious advancement of consumer-grade ransomware, driven by the bigger bounties which enterprises are able to pay out paired to the sheer scale of the attack area (internet facing endpoints and un-patched software). To the cyber attacker, your enterprise is a tempting target with a huge fat wallet simply pleading to be knocked over.

Your Organization is an Enticing Target

Easy Google queries may already have determined un-patched internet facing servers by the ratings throughout your domain, or your credulous users may currently be opening “spear phishing” e-mails crafted just for them probably authored by individuals they are familiar with.

The weaponized invoices go to your accounting department, the weaponized legal notifications are sent to your legal department, the weaponized resumes are sent to your human resources department, and the weaponized trade publication posts go to your public relations firm. That should cover it, for starters. Add the watering hole drive-by’s planted on market websites often visited by your workers, the social media attacks targeted to your key executives and their families, the infected USB sticks scattered around your facilities, and the compromises of your suppliers, clients, and business partners.

Enterprise compromise isn’t really an “if” however a “when”– the when is consistent, the who is legion.

Targeted Ransomware Is Here

Malware analysts are now reporting on enterprise-targeted ransomware, a natural advancement in the monetization of enterprise cyber intrusions. Christiaan Beek and Andrew Furtak explain this in an excerpt from Intel Security Advanced Threat Research study, February 2016:

” During the past couple of weeks, we have received information about a new campaign of targeted ransomware attacks. Instead of the typical modus operandi (phishing attacks or drive-by downloads that lead to automated execution of ransomware), the cyber attackers gained consistent access to the victim’s network through vulnerability exploitation and spread their access to any linked systems that they could. On each system, numerous tools were used to find, secure, and delete the initial files in addition to any backups.”

Careful reading of this citation immediately reveals actions to be taken. Preliminary penetration was by “vulnerability exploitation,” as is typically the case. A sound vulnerability management program with tracked and enforced exposure tolerances (determined in days) is obligatory. Given that the enemies “spread their access to any linked system,” it is likewise requisite to have robust network segmentation and access controls. Consider it as a leak-proof compartment on a warship to avoid sinking when the hull is breached. Of unique note, the attackers “delete the initial files as well as any backups,” so there must be no delete access from a compromised system to its backup files – systems need to only have the ability to add to their backups.

Your Backups Are Not Up to Date Are They?

Obviously, there must be current backups of any files that need to endure a business invasion. Paying the ransom is not an efficient choice given that any files produced by malware are naturally suspect and should be thought about tainted. Enterprise auditors or regulators can decline files excreted from some malware orifice as lawfully legitimate, the chain of custody having been totally broken. Financial data might have been changed with deceitful transactions, configuration data might have been interfered with, viruses might have been planted for later re-entry, or the malware file manipulations may merely have actually had errors or omissions. There would be no chance to place any confidence in such data, and accepting it as valid might even more jeopardize all future downstream data reliant upon or derived from it. Treat ransomware data as garbage. Either have a robust backup plan – frequently checked and verified – or prepare to suffer your losses.

Exactly what is Your Preparation for a Breach?

Even with sound backups privacy of impacted data should be presumed to be breached since it was read by malware. Even with comprehensive network logs, it would be impracticable to prove that no data had actually been exfiltrated. In a targeted attack the enemies generally take data stock, evaluating a minimum of samples of the data to examine its possible worth – they could be leaving cash on the table otherwise. Data ransom demands might just be the last monetization phase in an enterprise breach after mining all other value from the intrusion given that the ransom demand exposes the compromise.

Have a Thorough Removal Strategy

One must presume that proficient attackers have arranged numerous, cunningly-concealed opportunities of re-entry at different staggered time points (well after your crisis group has actually stood down and pricey consultants flown off to their next gig). Any roaming proof remaining was carefully staged to misguide investigators and deflect blame. Expensive re-imaging of systems must be exceptionally extensive, touching every sector of the disk across its whole recording surface and re-creating master boot records (MBR’s) and volume boot records from scratch. Some ransomware is known to jeopardize MBR’s.

Also, don’t assume system firmware has actually not been compromised. If you can upgrade the firmware, so can hackers. It isn’t really difficult for hacking organizations to check out firmware hacking alternatives when their business targets standardize system hardware setups, enabling a little lab effort to go a long way. The industrialization of cyber crime allows for the advancement and sale of firmware hacks on the dark internet to a broader criminal market.

Assistance Is Readily available With Great EDR Tools

After all of this negativity, there is an answer. When it pertains to targeted ransomware attacks, taking proactive steps instead of reactive clean-up is far less unpleasant. A great Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tool can assist on both ends. EDR tools are good for determining exposed vulnerabilities and active applications. Some applications have such an infamous history of exposing vulnerabilities that they are best eliminated from the environment (Adobe Flash, for instance). EDR tools are likewise proficient at tracking all substantial endpoint events, so that investigators can determine a “patient zero” and track the pivot activity of targeted enterprise-spreading ransomware. Attackers rely on endpoint opacity to assist with concealment their actions from security personnel, however EDR exists to make it possible for open visibility of significant endpoint events that could signal an attack in progress. EDR isn’t limited to the old antivirus convict-or-acquit model, that permits newly remixed attack code to avert AV detection.

Great EDR tools are constantly alert, always reporting, constantly tracking, available when you need it: now or retroactively. You would not turn a blind eye to enterprise network activity, so do not disregard business endpoint activity.

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