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- Hardening security against threats while avoiding alert fatigue
- Further defense against ransomware attacks
A durable security strategy against determined human adversaries must include detection and mitigation goals. It’s not enough to rely on detection alone because 1) some infiltration events are practically undetectable (they look like multiple innocent actions), and 2) it’s not uncommon for ransomware attacks to become overlooked due to alert fatigue caused by multiple, disparate security product alerts.
Because attackers have multiple ways to evade and disable security products and are capable of mimicking benign admin behavior in order to blend in as much as possible, IT security teams and SOCs should back up their detection efforts with security hardening measures.
Ransomware attackers are motivated by easy profits, so adding to their cost via security hardening is key in disrupting the cybercriminal economy.
Here are some steps organizations can take to protect themselves:
Build credential hygiene: Develop a logical network segmentation based on privileges that can be implemented alongside network segmentation to limit lateral movement.
Audit credential exposure: Auditing credential exposure is critical in preventing ransomware attacks and cybercrime in general. IT security teams and SOCs can work together to reduce administrative privileges and understand the level at which their credentials are exposed.
Harden the cloud: As attackers move towards cloud resources, it’s important to secure cloud resources and identities as well as on-premises accounts. Security teams should focus on hardening security identity infrastructure, enforcing multifactor authentication (MFA) on all accounts, and treating cloud admins/tenant admins with the same level of security and credential hygiene as Domain Admins.
Close security blind spots: Organizations should verify that their security tools are running in optimum configuration and perform regular network scans to ensure a security product protects all systems.
Reduce the attack surface: Establish attack surface reduction rules to prevent common attack techniques used in ransomware attacks. In observed attacks from several ransomware-associated activity groups, organizations with clearly defined rules have been able to mitigate attacks in their initial stages while preventing hands-on-keyboard activity.
Evaluate the perimeter: Organizations must identify and secure perimeter systems that attackers might use to access the network. Public scanning interfaces, such as RiskIQ, can be used to augment data.
Harden internet-facing assets: Ransomware attackers and access brokers use unpatched vulnerabilities, whether already disclosed or zero-day, especially in the initial access stage. They also rapidly adopt new vulnerabilities. To further reduce exposure, organizations can use the threat and vulnerability management capabilities in endpoint detection and response products to discover, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities and misconfigurations.
Prepare for recovery: The best ransomware defense should include plans to recover quickly in the event of an attack. It will cost less to recover from an attack than to pay a ransom, so be sure conduct regular backups of your critical systems and protect those backups against deliberate erasure and encryption. If possible, store backups in online immutable storage or fully offline or off-site.
The multi-faceted threat of the new ransomware economy and elusive nature of human-operated ransomware attacks require organizations to adopt a comprehensive approach to security.
The steps we outlined above help defend against common attack patterns and will go a long way in preventing ransomware attacks. To further stiffen defenses against traditional and human-operated ransomware and other threats, use security tools that can provide deep cross-domain visibility and unified investigation capabilities.
For an additional overview of ransomware complete with tips and best practices for prevention, detection, and remediation, see Protect your organization from ransomware,