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Frighteningly, advanced cybercriminals have developed ransomware—such as NotPetya—that can infiltrate networks, exploit vulnerabilities, and access sensitive information without social engineering tricks that try to get users to grant access themselves. In order to protect their customers from the full range of attacks levied by bad actors of today and tomorrow, MSPs should consider what software will best serve them in an increasingly hostile digital environment. In fact, ransomware attacks have continued to proliferate in 2019, ]. If your customers are asking questions like “How does ransomware work?” or “What does ransomware do?” the simplest way to explain it is that bad actors encrypt files and demand payment for you to regain access. Users should also be careful about what programs they give administrative access to, which can help stymie potential attack vectors. If your files aren’t just hidden, there’s a good chance they’ve been successfully encrypted by ransomware. Subsequently, when you attempt to access your computer, a feedback message informs you of the hijacking of your files or logs. In the same vein, cybercriminals may attempt to extort victims using other forms of intimidation rather than demanding payment in return for reaccess. Instead, you’ll be working to restart and restore your device to an earlier, uninfected setting. Although each ransomware variant has its own methods, all ransomware relies on similar social engineering tactics to trick legitimate network users into unknowingly granting bad actors access. Though it might not sound typical in today’s age of cloud services, removable media is a common form of delivery for malware. Common attack methods of ransomware include phishing emails, vulnerable web servers, and malicious email attachments, which you can read about here. But left unpatched, the security holes can be exploited by ransomware to spread its devastating effects. By the end of 2019, global ransomware events are projected to cost $22,184 per minute. By the end of 2019, global ransomware events are projected to cost $22,184 per minute.Even between Q1 and Q2, the average ransom payment increased 184%—from $12,762 in Q1 to $36,295 in Q2. Create barriers within your network to avoid a devastating ransomware attack if the malware can self propagate. Email attachments. Without the right software to block attacks, scan new files or programs, and keep up-to-date with known threats, you’re leaving our system vulnerable. Think about phishing emails like malware that casts a wide net. WannaCry ransomware disrupted businesses and government organizations in more than 150 countries. Whether you work on a mobile device, desktop, Mac, Windows, or even Linux, you are a target for ransomware. If the form does not load in a few seconds, it is probably because your browser is using Tracking Protection. Europol held an expert meeting to combat the spread of “police ransomware,” and the German Federal Office for Information Security and the FBI have issued numerous warnings about ransomware. Spam is the most common method for distributing ransomware. Set a plan in place that will protect everything that reaches the end of your network--everything that connects to your business. While the specific attack vectors will differ depending on what vulnerabilities bad actors are trying to exploit, most ransomware shares the same goal: to deny users access to their files and extort payment from them for the (potentially false) promise of returning that access. Doing so will help ensure devices and networks are not vulnerable to new types of malware. This can be fixed by checking on hidden files in your File Explorer window. Because these industries handle information that is carefully regulated and highly valuable, it’s no wonder bad actors target them with ransomware attacks. So automating patching can not only help save money and precious time you can spend elsewhere, but, more importantly, it can block threats before they turn into full blow attacks: Ransomware spreads in many of the same ways other malware makes its way onto computers: through corrupt e-mail attachments, malicious … If the user opens such email attachments, it can lead directly to an infection. What makes it more challenging is its simplicity—it doesn’t need to be complex in order for victims to take the bait. Dharma, SamSam, and GandCrab, etc., are typical examples of ransomware spread through a remote desktop protocol. Try this remote monitoring and management solution built to help maximize efficiency and scale. At this point, you should begin looking at previous backups, scanning them for viruses and malware, and restoring them. Phobos ransomware is an example of the latter category. 4 - Train your employees Ransomware is a type of malware that hackers use to encrypt the victim's data and demand a ransom to restore it. Setting up passwords or authentication to get into your RDP with a VPN as the front door will help protect you and your business. How does Ransomware Spread? In addition to the staggering financial impact of ransomware in recent years, it’s also important to note that ransomware attacks are particularly common in specific industries and subsectors. While it’s possible to remove ransomware once it’s already affected your computer, it’s better for users to know how to prevent ransomware from infiltrating devices in the first place. If anyone encounters a new malware (ransomware) spreading vector, be sure to post it here so we can keep this information current. Ransomware has been a mainstay of malware cybercrime since the first recorded attack in 1989. Ransomware which exploits OS vulnerabilities can spread like wildfire because it does not require human interaction to spread. Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that removing ransomware will not necessarily decrypt files that have already been encrypted. For example, a specific variant of ransomware known as leakware or doxware involves bad actors infiltrating a user’s device, encrypting files, and then threatening to make that information public unless payment is received. Updated software and malware protection are great first steps, but it’s also critical to think about every device that has access to your network. Crime actors are now using Managed Security Services Providers or other supply chain partners to get into your system. Drive-by Downloading And if the malware is delivered via remote desktop, if it employs a cryptoworm, it can spread quickly and throughout the rest of the network. This means cybercriminals ranging from amateurs to the most experienced often see ransomware as a low-risk, high-reward option. This is just one example of the tremendous disruptive potential of ransomware attacks. In recent news, the criminals behind the Sodinokibi ransomware (an alleged offshoot of GandCrab) have started to use managed service providers (MSP) to spread infections. ... Once you become a victim of such a virus, it can potentially spread to other equipment, via a server network. But how does ransomware spread? MSPs should consider what software will best serve them, Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, IntSights, more than 25% of all malware attacks, While email is the most common way ransomware attacks are carried out, The TMSP Program: Offer Advanced Security Without Building Your Own SOC, Build a Powerful Security Offering with Managed Email Security, Creating Your Automation Strategy: Three Key Components You Must Have in Place, December 2020 Patch Tuesday—A quiet(er) finish to a busy year in vulnerabilities, Why Automation Should be Part of Your Sales Pitch, How Email Archiving Can Help Move You Toward SOX Compliance, Documentation Management API and Why It’s Important for the MSP Business, Identify which RMM solution is right for me. About Encryption: Crypto malware encrypts any data file that the victim has access to since it generally runs in the context of the user that invokes the executable and does not need administrative rights. They are advertised as updates for Adobe Acrobat, Java and Flash Player. Note: Firefox users may see a shield icon to the left of the URL in the address bar. Next in our series on ransomware is more information about how ransomware spreads. Ransomware is most typically distributed through spam email attacks. © SolarWinds MSP Canada ULC and SolarWinds MSP UK Ltd. But the developers of the software have abandoned the project and the decryption key is now available for free online. Threat Monitor is a security information and event management (SIEM) tool that uses threat intelligence, network and host intrusion detection systems, and other monitoring tools to deliver better visibility across managed networks. In addition to the staggering financial impact of ransomware in recent years, it’s also important to note that ransomware … All Rights Reserved. Train your workforce to use the protections you’ve set up--including two-factor authentication, spotting phishing emails, and keeping their systems up-to-date. Most ransomware is spread hidden within Word documents, PDFs and other files normally sent via email, or through a secondary infection on computers already affected by viruses that offer a back door for further attacks. For mobile devices specifically, there were more than 18 million mobile malware attacks in 2018 and the numbers are expected to triple quickly. However, if you’re up against a kind of ransomware that has locked your screen and barred you from starting other programs and applications, Windows users can try System Restore to return their device to an earlier state. Evil Corp, one of the biggest malware operations on the planet, has returned … Ransomware continues to grow in both frequency and scope of damage. The software is wreaking havoc on organizations that are not prepared for it. Since then, it’s kept pace with new technologies and adapted to the vulnerabilities those technologies open up. The only way to decrypt them is to use complex mathematical keys only the encrypter knows. How Does Ransomware Spread? Fake email messages might appear to be a note from a friend or colleague asking a user to check out an attached file, for example. In 2019, there was a ransomware attack every 14 seconds. Once the web visitor clicks on that ad, likely ranked on search engine result pages or even social media sites, the malware is delivered and downloaded onto the device. 6 - Segment your network and utilize PoLP Ransomware software can be delivered via social media messaging platforms, untrustworthy domains, and drive-by-download attacks. So, it’s important to take it … Manage ticketing, reporting, and billing to increase helpdesk efficiency. Manage data protection for servers, workstations applications, documents and Microsoft 365 from one SaaS dashboard. This ransomware was spread through spam campaigns. Similarly, you and your customers should be backing up your files as frequently as possible. As the Internet of Things (IoT) and BYOD policies grow in popularity in the workplace, and as business networks become more complex, MSPs trusted with the security of their customers’ networks need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to bad actors and the types of malware they deploy. Ransomware is commonly distributed via emails that encourage the recipient to … Drive-by downloading happens when a client accidentally visits a contaminated site and after that malware is downloaded and introduced without the client’s learning. For those wondering how ransomware spreads, it relies on various modes of infiltrating networks and gaining access to sensitive files. Set your system up on an auto-update schedule and make sure your IT team requires that system updates are mandatory for all business devices. Make sure your RDP is only accessible via a VPN. Organizations that handle financially sensitive files or data governed by strict HIPAA laws have a vested interest in the security and privacy of the information they manage. As one might expect, this has led to a digital environment rife with ransomware attacks—both sophisticated and simple. How quickly does Ransomware spread? Beyond that, you may be facing the prospect of a complete restore, although most ransomware won’t require you to go quite this far. Ransomware continues to grow in both frequency and scope of damage. Once this has happened, ransomware software will use whatever access has been granted to locate sensitive proprietary information and encrypt it. Ransomware is regularly spread through phishing messages that contain pernicious connections or through drive-by downloading. Are you thinking ahead to how laptops transition from home networks and back to the corporate network? In the beginning, ransomware was only capable of attacking the device or machine that it infected. Ransomware can spread almost instantly. In August of 2019, hundreds of dental offices around the country found they could no longer access their patient records. Often the malicious software disguises itself as another program or file and once it’s opened, it installs the ransomware onto the local device. Just as you protect your files and physical devices from an attack, you must prepare your workforce to detect the common social engineering tactics that crime actors use to trick people into infecting their networks with ransomware. Threat Monitor leverages cloud technology to provide MSPs with powerful control over complex managed networks. Knowing how ransomware spreads can help you to take the right steps to secure your personal and business computers. It’s becoming so common that the likelihood of your business remaining unscathed is incredibly low. Ransomware is a concern for businesses of every size. How to Prevent and Prepare for Ransomware Attacks, What You Need to Know About Ransomware Insurance, how_recover+[random].txt, how_recover.txt, HELP_TO_SAVE_FILES.txt RECOVERY_FILES.txt. Please allow tracking on this page to request a subscription. The spam email will have an attachment disguised as a legitimate file or will include a URL link in the body of the email. Once it has accessed the end user’s device, it will encrypt all files stored on the computer. Apply the principle of least privilege for every employee, preventing access to data that isn’t necessary to their job duty. Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or through drive-by downloading. Ransomware has been a hot topic the past couple of years. Locky This ransomware gained notoriety by infecting and collecting big ransom from Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in CA. Ransomware infections spread with the assistance of emails containing software or linked malware. The hope is that if these emails are sent to enough people, someone will click the link and allow access to their system, unknowingly. Protect users from email threats and downtime. In short, ransomware is a critical issue for businesses across the digital landscape. Similar to a drive-by downloading scheme, malvertising delivers the ransomware via a malicious ad. Accordingly, ransomware attacks that encrypt these files or threaten to make them public pose a particularly debilitating—and increasingly common—threat to such public and private organizations. No industry, no business size, no file types are immune to ransomware. Ransomware is also delivered via drive-by-download attacks on compromised or malicious websites. In order to prevent the spread of ransomware, it’s important to start with two very specific steps: 1 - Update your software 3 - Protect your endpoints Is every device protected? Ransomware: How does it work and what can you do to stop it. Grow at your own pace. Most ransomware is delivered via email that appears to be legitimate, enticing you to click a link or download an attachment that delivers the malicious software. This is either an Ad Blocker plug-in or your browser is in private mode. For example, the rise and fall of cryptocurrency has altered how bad actors seek to make a profit. Today’s managed services providers (MSPs) face an increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal landscape. For MSPs to provide their clients with the most reliable cybersecurity possible, the complex nature of ransomware calls for the appropriate skill set and tech stack for the job. First, there are variants with regard to exactly what the victim is being held to ransom for. Even between Q1 and Q2, the average ransom payment increased 184%—from $12,762 in Q1 to $36,295 in Q2. Ransomware is malware that encrypts data or locks you out of your system, and demands a ransom or payment in order to regain access to your files or device. Ransomware attacks and programs are evolving every day. This dangerous malware holds the ability to completely encrypt your files in mere seconds. Get the tools you need to manage, secure, and improve all things IT—all within a single web-based dashboard. They hold the key, without which the victim is unable to access the content. Another way used by cybercriminals is hiding the ransomware links in a button or the body of the email. In this article, I will attempt a deep dive into what Phobos ransomware is, how it spreads, and how you can protect your enterprise against it. There are even opportunities for bad actors to use prefabricated ransomware software. Network Propagation Beyond that, MSPs should invest in cybersecurity applications capable of protecting organizational devices and networks from the full range of digital threats. How does ransomware work? Email is the most common way by which ransomware spreads. Keeping your system up-to-date will ensure any security holes are patched and your system is in the best position to defend against unwanted software attacks or downloads. Like other malware, ransomware … As the name implies, ransomware is a type of malware that demands some form of payment from the victim in order to recover control of their computer and/or data. What is your plan for mobile devices? Drive-by downloading occurs when a user unknowingly visits an infected website and then malware is downloaded and installed without the user’s knowledge. Help support customers and their devices with remote support tools designed to be fast and powerful. Update your systems to block malicious file types or extensions. To do so, MSPs need to take a proactive approach to malware defense rather than solving crises only as they occur. Ransomware is often spread via social engineering or email attacks, where the end user has been fooled into clicking on an infected link or opening an attachment containing malware. Like other ransomware seen in the past, Maze can spread across a corporate network, infect computers it finds and encrypts data so it cannot be accessed. Easily adopt and demonstrate best practice password and documentation management workflows. New external factors also affect the cybercriminal landscape and change how ransomware is deployed. The answer may be discouraging. Ransomware can also spread via a network. Keep your organization safe with reliable security software. A note about malicious attachments or downloads: it’s important to keep an up-to-date list of known ransomware extensions and files. There are also ransomware decryption tools on the market that may be able to help you unlock your files without paying the ransom fee. By doing this, they can help themselves and their customers stay ahead of the most recent ransomware developments. If you’re facing relatively basic ransomware, for example, you can attempt to neutralize the attack by entering your computer’s safe mode and deploying antivirus software. Click on this to disable tracking protection for this session/site. For instance, Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found that of the different kinds of malware that affect the healthcare industry, 85% of infections are ransomware. This particular malware uses an APC (Asynchronous Procedure Call) to inject a DLL into the user mode process of lsass.exe. All that is needed to execute the software or download it onto the device is for the visitor to open a link. This will put you in a better position if you do face an attack, allowing you to preserve your files without having to pay the ransom. It’s important to note not all ransomware will present itself as such. At the most basic level, cybercriminals carry out ransomware attacks by using encryption software to encrypt files and bar traditional access to them. With so many people working remotely right now, this delivery method is a growing concern. Most commonly, it spreads by email phishing and automatic downloads on infected websites. This article is part of our Definitive Guide to Ransomware series: Ransomware is malware that encrypts data or locks you out of your system, and demands a ransom or payment in order to regain access to your files or device. Tackle complex networks. It’s an extra step, but that barrier creates a wider gap between you and the possibility of an attack. But just because hackers have the ability to encrypt your data so quickly doesn’t always mean that they will. How does ransomware spread? Once injected, exploit shellcode is installed to help maintain pe… The Ransomware is usually disguised as an email attachment and sent to unwary users. However, one high-profile example, the WannaCry worm, traveled automatically between computers without user interaction. Automate what you need. Invest in malware protection software. For example, it’s critical you keep operating systems and other important software up-to-date with the most recent security patches. 1. What’s more, these figures only represent attacks that have been reported—it’s likely that many businesses choose not to make attacks public knowledge lest they damage their reputation or have to deal with the broader implications of a potential breach. Once the ransomware is on your system, if it incorporates a cryptoworm, it can easily spread throughout your network until it runs out of places to spread or hits appropriate security barriers. It’s becoming so common that the likelihood of your business remaining unscathed is incredibly low. And according to cybersecurity provider IntSights, more than 25% of all malware attacks have hit banks and other financial firms—more than any other industry. While email is the most common way ransomware attacks are carried out, it’s not the only method. With SolarWinds® Threat Monitor, MSPs can do just that. Try this powerful but simple remote monitoring and management solution. As far as malware goes, ransomware is bread and butter for cybercriminals. How Ransomware Spreads The method of infection varies for most viruses, but ransomware is typically packaged with installation files masquerading as official software updates. Within that broad definition, there are a few twists and turns that are worth noting. But what makes Maze more dangerous is that it also steals the data it finds and exfiltrates it to servers controlled by malicious hackers who then threaten to release it if a ransom is not paid. But while it might not be the most unique ransomware variant out there, Phobos can still lay waste to your system and scorch the earth behind it. Leakware can have particularly high stakes for image-conscious organizations or those who deal with especially sensitive information, like healthcare companies and government agencies. MSSPs and Other Supply Chain Partners As you may know, the remote desktop is a communication protocol that allows connection between two computers over a network connection, and this a popular attack vector. DoublePulsar is the backdoor malware that EternalBlue checks to determine the existence and they are closely tied together. 5 - Protect your RDP And ransomware targets all types of devices. It’s possible to remove ransomware once it’s affected your device, but the extent to which you’ll be successful depends on the kind of malware you’re dealing with. The specific attack vectors differ, as we’ll discuss going forward, but the overall goal is to ransom valuable proprietary information. With a vulnerable web server, the idea is similar. Now, it’s so sophisticated, once the malware is embedded in the local machine, it can self propagate and move throughout other devices connected to the network. There are many ways for ransomware to spread. Be careful what you click on, maintain anti-virus software to scan any downloads, and above all: back up. One dimension of ransomware that makes it so common is that it’s easy for cybercriminals to lean on existing ransomware variants to execute their attacks. This means you’ve accepted the reality you will not be regaining access to the files in question. Ideally, the right software will be able to provide the kind of security monitoring you need to exercise visibility over your digital environment, detect threats as they occur, and connect you with the tools necessary to act. It’s important to keep all of your endpoints in mind when you’re building a protection plan against ransomware. Defend against ransomware, zero-day attacks, and evolving online threats with Endpoint Detection and Response. Are you requiring two-factor authentication? WannaCry is a ransomware worm that spread rapidly through across a number of computer networks in May of 2017. Without a VPN, you’re exposing your entire server to the public. Users then receive some kind of alert warning them access to their files has been blocked and directing them to a portal where they must pay—usually in cryptocurrency—for the files to be decrypted. After entry, the ransomware infects your critical systems, not only encrypting files but also locking down entire networks. New WastedLocker ransomware demands payments of millions of USD. It is generally spread using some form of social engineering; victims are tricked into downloading an e-mail attachment or clicking a link. Ransomware has been around for decades and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. There are a few other vehicles that can deliver ransomware to your system: Remote Desktop Protocol Ransomware is a concern for businesses of every size. Some attacks will masquerade as government agencies, such as the Department of Justice, and claim that a user’s files have been locked for breaking the law and they must pay a fine in order to reaccess them. How does it spread? Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan disguised as a legitimate file that the user is tricked into downloading or opening when it arrives as an email attachment. Once a crime actor has broken into the MSSP system, they have complete access to your network and they can install the malware or poke around and see what data looks enticing to them. 2 - Install malware protection Cyber criminals can take advantage of weak passwords and bypass security barriers in an unsecure RDP. Get the latest MSP tips, tricks, and ideas sent to your inbox each week. But how does ransomware spread? See the tables at the bottom of this post for common file names and extensions. If you’re not seeing your typical icons and shortcuts, for example, the ransomware you’re dealing with may have just hidden them. Malvertising Removable Media (USB keys, etc.) Start fast. And experts predict that the frequency will increase to an attack every 11 seconds by 2021. Hard-to-trace cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have emboldened bad actors using ransomware, making them more likely to carry out these attacks knowing the likelihood of being tracked down is low. Malicious code can be embedded in an image or on a site (sometimes even a legitimate site that is unaware they are the vehicle for the malware) in the case of drive-by downloading. Bad actors will exploit websites running vulnerable web servers and leverage the site for their own purposes--typically using the site as a front door to visitors and then unknowingly downloading the malware to those visitors systems. And with centralized security monitoring, this near-comprehensive solution makes it possible to exercise this kind of control from a single central command. After this, you can begin an inventory of your files. Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or through drive-by downloading. With an MSSP, they already have access and likely authority to manage users, update software, etc. In 2013 and 2014 the CryptoLocker ransomware spread … Drive-by downloading occurs when a user unknowingly visits an infected website and then malware is downloaded and installed without the user’s knowledge. Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim's files. Keep in mind, the ransomware owner or developer needs you to open these documents on the grounds that their definitive objective is to get paid, so the files should be somewhere simple for you to discover. Emails are written and designed to trick or fool the opener into clicking a link or downloading a file. Ransomware: How does it work and what can you do to stop it. For more information about ransomware, check out our other articles here: Malicious extensions that are added to file names: © 2020 Measured Insurance LLC, All rights reserved. Many victims do not know what they should do aside from removing the infection from their computer. As cybercriminals adapt to evolving technology, the tools MSPs use to counter them must evolve in turn. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. Fact, ransomware was only capable of attacking the device is for the visitor to open a.... Security monitoring, this delivery method is a type of malware that EternalBlue to. Ransom to restore access to them remaining unscathed is incredibly low email attachment sent..., cybercriminals carry out ransomware attacks attacks are carried out, it potentially! Has been a mainstay of malware cybercrime since the first recorded attack in 1989 ransomware: how it. And their devices with remote support tools designed to be complex in order for victims take. Get the tools MSPs use to counter them must evolve in turn to inject a DLL into user! 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