Awareness and Cyber Resilience in the Era of Ransomware
The Cybersecurity threats and consequences posed by Ransomware attacks are increasing at an alarming rate. Companies of all shapes and sizes are being targeted with sophisticated attacks that are increasing in severity and potency. We are also seeing increased frequency of Ransomware attacks throughout our network of customers, partners, and their end-users.
WHAT IS A RANSOMWARE ATTACK?
“Ransomware is an ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.” (Source #1)
HOW DO RANSOMWARE ATTACKS HAPPEN?
A Ransomware attack can be executed against your organization through many different techniques. There are primarily two forms of ransomware – Crypto Ransomware and Locker Ransomware.
Common Attack Vectors
- Email Phishing
- Malicious Web Links
- Instant Messaging
- Text Messages
- Social Engineering
AN EXECUTIVE POINT OF VIEW
Successful Ransomware attacks can disrupt your operations for a prolonged period, or worse – put you out of business entirely.
Not only will you incur a significant and unplanned expense if you have no choice but to pay the ransom, you also have no guarantee that the malicious actors will return access to your systems and data after the ransom is paid.
In addition to the ransomware disruption itself, organizations should also be aware of the negative impacts to overall operations, inability to deliver on service or product commitments, and long-term damage to the brand of the organization.
Many companies we engage with are not adequately prepared to protect against a targeted and sophisticated Ransomware attack, and many are not able to recover in the event of a successful attack against their organizations.
ALL ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR RANSOMWARE.
Best practices should include a combination of appropriate defenses, risk prevention, and recovery strategies. Having a thorough understanding of your risk level, hardening your prevention mechanisms and controls in place, and establishing recovery strategies in the event of an attack will enable your organization to better protect itself against an attack, identify an attack quickly if it occurs, and recover swiftly if you become a victim.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR ORGANIZATION
We’ve compiled some statistics and examples below that demonstrate the magnitude and severity of these attacks.
We’ve also developed a Ransomware Readiness Assessment designed to help your organization prepare for Ransomware attacks, and develop a strategy to react and recover in the event of a successful attack. We recommend that all companies complete an assessment to determine their level of risk and identify ways to improve their overall Cybersecurity posture.
Statistics & Proof Points
It Can Happen to You
Organizations are worried about cyber vulnerability and ransomware, and for good reason.
Ransomware hits every industry – take a look at the graphic below.
According to a recent Gartner Survey (Source #2) of over 150 executives covering top organizational risks for 2022, cyber vulnerability and Ransomware ranked as the two most important risks out of over 30 risks identified. Of those polled, 96% and 88% of respondents (respectively) rated both topics as “very important.”
In the Sophos “State of Ransomware 2021” survey (Source #3) of over 5,400 IT decision-makers worldwide, 54% of respondents believed cyberattacks are now too advanced for their IT team to handle on their own.
Ransomware attacks are happening frequently and are costing organizations millions.
- The average ransom payment in 2021 hit $570,000 – 82% higher than $312,000 in 2020. (Source #5)
- True costs of a Ransomware attack are estimated by Sophos to be $1.85M in 2021 on average.
- Cybersecurity Ventures estimates worldwide Ransomware damages at $20B by the end of 2021. (Source #6)
- Costs will increase over the next decade. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that ransomware could cost organizations a collective $265B by 2031 (A 30% increase every year for the next 10 years). (Source #6)
- In 2021, 37% of global organizations said they 5 were the victim of some form of Ransomware attack. (Source #7)
HIDDEN COSTS SURROUNDING ATTACKS:
- Service credits and/or refunds
- Lost revenue/sales
- Legal costs
- Crisis communications & PR
- Headcount time diverted from business-driving efforts
- Increased insurance premiums
- Brand & reputation damage
- Market capitalization reductions for publicly traded companies
EXAMPLES OF HIGH-PROFILE, PUBLIC RANSOMWARE ATTACKS
Public, high-profile attacks can be good case studies and examples of why an awareness of Ransomware is essential for businesses today. They’re not only expensive but can cause PR or IT nightmares for CIOs and internal teams alike.
After being locked out of their network for two weeks and having a sizable portion of company data stolen in Q1 2021, CNA Financial paid the hackers $40 million in ransom to regain network access.
On May 7, 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies nearly
half of the East Coast USA’s gasoline, “went down for several days, causing gas panic-buying, shortages, and price spikes in some states”, costing the pipeline roughly $4 million in Bitcoin as ransom.
In 2021, Kia Motors America experienced an extended system outage because of a ransomware cyber attack conducted by DoppelPaymer, which included a $20M ransom (in Bitcoin) demand that would grant Kia a decryptor and guarantee that their sensitive data would not be leaked.
Centrilogic Customer Example
Companies of all sizes are being targeted, not just large businesses.
One of Centrilogic’s customers was affected by a successful attack in early 2022 when their end-customer fell victim to Ransomware.
The attack rolled up into our client’s infrastructure environment, resulting in a fully encrypted environment and an immediate business continuity effort required to mitigate the attack and restore services (SMB in the telecommunications vertical).
HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED:
- Over 100 virtual machines hosting critical applications and data across development and production environments were fully encrypted.
- Malicious actors demanded ransom in exchange for returning access to their virtual machines.
- The customer was adequately prepared for recovery in the event of a Ransomware attack.
- Centrilogic worked with our customer’s internal team to begin execution of their multistep ransomware response efforts, and gradually brought services back online.
- Snapshots of each VM obtained through managed backup and storage services allowed us to migrate them to an entirely new environment and resume regular business operations with minimal impacts.
Our customer was able to minimize the consequences and avoid paying the ransom and was able to recover most information and data due to their strong backup and retention schedules. If that hadn’t been the case, the consequences could have been severe – both financially and operationally.
Centrilogic is still reviewing ways to identify new methods to improve the detection and prevention capabilities of the customer to help them identify and prevent future attacks faster.
RANSOMWARE READINESS ASSESSMENT: BE PREPARED
We offer customers a thorough Ransomware Readiness Assessment designed to help you gain peace of mind.
We evaluate and identify your current risk level for a Ransomware attack, identify specific gaps in the Ransomware preparedness, and recommend steps required to improve your organization’s overall Cybersecurity posture, and developing a plan to recover swiftly in the event of a Ransomware attack. Assessments include, but are not limited to the following components based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. The assessment is designed for most organizations of all sizes, and across all industries and verticals.
- Identify and locate all critical business assets that could be susceptible to risk
- Identify and document existing anti-malware controls
- Identify any gaps or issues with current controls and overall cybersecurity posture
- Assess the current threat level to the organization
Assessment of processes & controls in place to protect against attack, including:
- User permission & awareness
- Endpoint configuration
- Server configuration
- Change & patch management processes
- Web protection
- Network protection
- Email protection
- Data backup & storage processes
- Assessment of all anti-malware security software and hardware products
- Evaluation of how quickly your team and systems could detect an attack
- Assessment of current Incident response processes & plans in place in the event of a Ransomware attack
- Assessment of internal team structure
- Assessment of ability to recover in the event of an attack based on steps 1-4
- Walkthrough of existing Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plans
- Evaluation of system backup and storage efficacy
- Evaluation of any external vendors required to assist your organization in steps 2-4
SUPPLEMENTARY SERVICES – PREVENTION & RECOVERY
You’re in good hands with Centrilogic’s range of Cybersecurity & Infrastructure services.
There is no one-size-fits-all playbook that can be deployed to facilitate Ransomware prevention and recovery. Much of an organization’s ability to prevent Ransomware and recover in the event of the attack is dependent on its overall systems, data, and infrastructure architecture. Oftentimes, proper prevention and recovery is only possible through a combination of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure services being in place. We have a comprehensive portfolio of both, which can be architected to support most Ransomware prevention and recovery strategies. Some of these services that we offer include:
CYBERSECURITY SERVICES THAT CAN HELP PROTECT/PREVENT THEIR INFRASTRUCTURE AND APPLICATIONS:
- Incident Response & the Development of Incident Response Processes
- 24×7 Managed Security / SOC Monitoring Intrusion Detection & Prevention
- Email Security
- Security Awareness Training for End Users
INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES THAT CAN ENABLE SWIFT RECOVERY IN THE EVENT OF AN ATTACK:
- Managed Backup
- Managed Storage
- Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) – Virtual Continuous Replication
- Backup, Storage, Restore, & Recovery solutions across leading Public Cloud platforms
- Options and recommended solutions will vary based on application and infrastructure environments
Now’s the time to act. If you are concerned about your organization’s vulnerability to Cybersecurity threats and Ransomware attacks, and think you can benefit from a Ransomware Readiness Assessment, please contact us today.
Source 1: https://www.cisa.gov/stopransomware
Source 2: Gartner Document #4009297 “2022 Top Enterprise Risk Benchmarks for Audit: Cyber and IT, ESG, and More”
Source 3: https://www.sophos.com/en-us/content/state-of-ransomware
Source 5: https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/blog/2021/08/ransomware-crisis/
Source 6: https://cybersecurityventures.com/global-ransomware-damage-costs-predicted-to-reach-20-billion-usd-by-2021/
Source 7: https://www.techtarget.com/searchsecurity/feature/Ransomware-trends-statistics-and-facts
Steven Cohen, VP CyberSecurity Practice
Cybersecurity thought leader with over 20 years of experience, focused on providing solutions for Cybersecurity, Governance, Risk Management and Compliance.
Specializing in helping organizations identify, understand and mitigate informational and IT risks to meet industry best practices or compliance requirements.