Common Causes for Ransomware Attacks


Learn from Past Incidents to Prepare for Future Ones.

Ransomware has been a hot topic in the cybersecurity community for a while because it seems like everyone is getting hit. There are also massive consequences for getting hit, especially for industries that cannot afford to have operations interrupted for long.

In this blog, we will go over some of the most common causes behind ransomware attacks. We will also discuss the solutions to these common vulnerabilities and how your organization can potentially implement them at a fraction of the price that the ransomware attacks would cost.

Phishing Emails

By far the most common vector for any malware but especially ransomware is phishing emails. Users accidentally click on a malicious link or download something that they should not have. Soon after that inadvertent mistake, all the files within the organization may be encrypted.

This vulnerability can be mitigated in your organization by having software that can monitor emails for common signs of phishing and restrict the ability of users to interact with emails that they get. Microsoft Defender for Office 365 has these capabilities and many more that can be used to prevent ransomware and any other incident that is coming from email.

Little/No User Education

If users within the organization are not given basic education about cybersecurity threats, that gives malicious actors several more opportunities to infiltrate your organization’s systems and encrypt their files.

This vulnerability can be mitigated in your organization by creating a realistic, engaging security training program that contains common sense security concepts. A few of the more security-focused organizations also provide incentives for following security guidelines. After all, a small bonus is less expensive than a full-blown breach.

Insufficient IAM Controls

If a malicious actor can guess a user’s passwords easily or is able to trick the user into giving them their password, they will gain a foothold in your organization’s network. If the organization does not have a strategy for managing identity and access, a malicious actor is likely to take advantage of that eventually.

This vulnerability can be mitigated in your organization by implementing controls around identity and access. Some common controls include password complexity requirements and 2-factor authentication. There are also tools like Microsoft Defender for Identity that can detect suspicious activity related to user accounts in your organization.

Poor Update Management

Devices on your network have updates and patches released regularly to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited and malware to spread unimpeded. For practical purposes, some organizations may not be on top of their updates and patching as much as they would like to be, which can lead to an eventual breach.

This vulnerability can be mitigated in your organization by following an update management routine that implements updates and patches regularly using risk-based prioritization. There are also tools like Microsoft Threat and Vulnerability Management that track the vulnerabilities of devices on your network.

Unmonitored Environments

To successfully mount a malware attack on an entire organization, there are several steps that a malicious actor must go through like initial access, lateral movement, and defense evasion that can be monitored with the right tools. An organization that is unable to monitor its environment is unable to detect an incident like a ransomware attack until it is too late.

This vulnerability can be mitigated in your organization by using tools like XDR and SIEM systems to monitor your environment. CyberMSI specializes in Microsoft XDR and SIEM solutions, and we use advanced detection capabilities to stop ransomware attacks as early in their lifecycle as possible.

Painting a Target on Your Back

If an organization is publicly displaying its lack of cybersecurity capabilities, it is much more likely that they will be seen as an easy target for malicious actors. There are also malicious actors with political interests that target organizations that they do not like.

This vulnerability can be mitigated in your organization by implementing robust information security. It is also a good idea to keep abreast of latest tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) that threat actors are using to ensure that your organization is able to detect and respond effectiely.

We will continue to share best practices and lessons learned in future posts on addressing the root cause of security incidents like ransomware attacks. CyberMSI is staying on top of causes for malware-based incidents like ransomware attacks so that we can provide the best possible security services for our customers.

In closing, consider these three questions when preparing for a ransomware attack in your organization:

  1. Are the users within our organization trained to handle the inevitable security concerns associated with ransomware attacks?
  2. Do we have the appropriate cybersecurity tools and controls in place to reduce the a probability of successful ransomware attacks?
  3. Would we be able to reduce your cybersecurity exposure by hiring a 3rd party security provider like CyberMSI to manage cybersecurity incidents?

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