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. 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. © SolarWinds MSP Canada ULC and SolarWinds MSP UK Ltd. Ransomware: How does it work and what can you do to stop it. Automate what you need. Make sure your RDP is only accessible via a VPN. Ransomware can also spread via a network. Please allow tracking on this page to request a subscription. 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. How does ransomware spread? 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. The answer may be discouraging. 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. This dangerous malware holds the ability to completely encrypt your files in mere seconds. Apply the principle of least privilege for every employee, preventing access to data that isn’t necessary to their job duty. 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. Ransomware attacks and programs are evolving every day. While email is the most common way ransomware attacks are carried out, it’s not the only method. Common attack methods of ransomware include phishing emails, vulnerable web servers, and malicious email attachments, which you can read about here. Email is the most common way by which ransomware spreads. All Rights Reserved. Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or through drive-by downloading. They hold the key, without which the victim is unable to access the content. Invest in malware protection software. How does Ransomware Spread? As one might expect, this has led to a digital environment rife with ransomware attacks—both sophisticated and simple. 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. 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. See the tables at the bottom of this post for common file names and extensions. Since then, it’s kept pace with new technologies and adapted to the vulnerabilities those technologies open up. 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. 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. 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. In 2019, there was a ransomware attack every 14 seconds. 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. 1. 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. It is generally spread using some form of social engineering; victims are tricked into downloading an e-mail attachment or clicking a link. 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. 5 - Protect your RDP Ransomware has been a mainstay of malware cybercrime since the first recorded attack in 1989. Tackle complex networks. Ransomware has been a hot topic the past couple of years. Grow at your own pace. In 2013 and 2014 the CryptoLocker ransomware spread … 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. Drive-by Downloading But how does ransomware spread? New WastedLocker ransomware demands payments of millions of USD. 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. At this point, you should begin looking at previous backups, scanning them for viruses and malware, and restoring them. Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts a victim's files. But left unpatched, the security holes can be exploited by ransomware to spread its devastating effects. Like other malware, ransomware … 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. 6 - Segment your network and utilize PoLP How Does Ransomware Spread? 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. Within that broad definition, there are a few twists and turns that are worth noting. This ransomware was spread through spam campaigns. But how does ransomware spread? Ransomware can spread almost instantly. Create barriers within your network to avoid a devastating ransomware attack if the malware can self propagate. With SolarWinds® Threat Monitor, MSPs can do just that. At the most basic level, cybercriminals carry out ransomware attacks by using encryption software to encrypt files and bar traditional access to them. So, it’s important to take it … In August of 2019, hundreds of dental offices around the country found they could no longer access their patient records. Manage ticketing, reporting, and billing to increase helpdesk efficiency. Note: Firefox users may see a shield icon to the left of the URL in the address bar. Similarly, you and your customers should be backing up your files as frequently as possible. Without a VPN, you’re exposing your entire server to the public. Email attachments. Ransomware continues to grow in both frequency and scope of damage. Ransomware spreads in many of the same ways other malware makes its way onto computers: through corrupt e-mail attachments, malicious … Update your systems to block malicious file types or extensions. No industry, no business size, no file types are immune to ransomware. This particular malware uses an APC (Asynchronous Procedure Call) to inject a DLL into the user mode process of lsass.exe. If the form does not load in a few seconds, it is probably because your browser is using Tracking Protection. A note about malicious attachments or downloads: it’s important to keep an up-to-date list of known ransomware extensions and files. After this, you can begin an inventory of your files. After entry, the ransomware infects your critical systems, not only encrypting files but also locking down entire networks. 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. For mobile devices specifically, there were more than 18 million mobile malware attacks in 2018 and the numbers are expected to triple quickly. 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. This can be fixed by checking on hidden files in your File Explorer window. The hope is that if these emails are sent to enough people, someone will click the link and allow access to their system, unknowingly. 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: Dharma, SamSam, and GandCrab, etc., are typical examples of ransomware spread through a remote desktop protocol. With a vulnerable web server, the idea is similar. Even between Q1 and Q2, the average ransom payment increased 184%—from $12,762 in Q1 to $36,295 in Q2. 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. The software is wreaking havoc on organizations that are not prepared for it. 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. 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. If you’re not seeing your typical icons and shortcuts, for example, the ransomware you’re dealing with may have just hidden them. There are a few other vehicles that can deliver ransomware to your system: Remote Desktop Protocol 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. How does ransomware work? Today’s managed services providers (MSPs) face an increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal landscape. Beyond that, MSPs should invest in cybersecurity applications capable of protecting organizational devices and networks from the full range of digital threats. Ransomware which exploits OS vulnerabilities can spread like wildfire because it does not require human interaction to spread. It’s becoming so common that the likelihood of your business remaining unscathed is incredibly low. Once this has happened, ransomware software will use whatever access has been granted to locate sensitive proprietary information and encrypt it. 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. It’s important to note not all ransomware will present itself as such. 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. 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. How quickly does Ransomware spread? In the beginning, ransomware was only capable of attacking the device or machine that it infected. Ransomware: How does it work and what can you do to stop it. 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. Get the latest MSP tips, tricks, and ideas sent to your inbox each week. For example, the rise and fall of cryptocurrency has altered how bad actors seek to make a profit. Ransomware is most typically distributed through spam email attacks. Whether you work on a mobile device, desktop, Mac, Windows, or even Linux, you are a target for ransomware. Set a plan in place that will protect everything that reaches the end of your network--everything that connects to your business. This means you’ve accepted the reality you will not be regaining access to the files in question. And experts predict that the frequency will increase to an attack every 11 seconds by 2021. How does it spread? 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. In the same vein, cybercriminals may attempt to extort victims using other forms of intimidation rather than demanding payment in return for reaccess. 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. For those wondering how ransomware spreads, it relies on various modes of infiltrating networks and gaining access to sensitive files. Ransomware is a concern for businesses of every size. 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. 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. Ransomware is a concern for businesses of every size. 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. By doing this, they can help themselves and their customers stay ahead of the most recent ransomware developments. Because these industries handle information that is carefully regulated and highly valuable, it’s no wonder bad actors target them with ransomware attacks. All that is needed to execute the software or download it onto the device is for the visitor to open a link. Try this remote monitoring and management solution built to help maximize efficiency and scale. Knowing how ransomware spreads can help you to take the right steps to secure your personal and business computers. And ransomware targets all types of devices. If the user opens such email attachments, it can lead directly to an infection. But just because hackers have the ability to encrypt your data so quickly doesn’t always mean that they will. 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. Doing so will help ensure devices and networks are not vulnerable to new types of malware. Manage data protection for servers, workstations applications, documents and Microsoft 365 from one SaaS dashboard. It’s important to keep all of your endpoints in mind when you’re building a protection plan against ransomware. Removable Media (USB keys, etc.) And with centralized security monitoring, this near-comprehensive solution makes it possible to exercise this kind of control from a single central command. 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. Ransomware is also delivered via drive-by-download attacks on compromised or malicious websites. To do so, MSPs need to take a proactive approach to malware defense rather than solving crises only as they occur. This means cybercriminals ranging from amateurs to the most experienced often see ransomware as a low-risk, high-reward option. Be careful what you click on, maintain anti-virus software to scan any downloads, and above all: back up. Leakware can have particularly high stakes for image-conscious organizations or those who deal with especially sensitive information, like healthcare companies and government agencies. If your files aren’t just hidden, there’s a good chance they’ve been successfully encrypted by ransomware. Once injected, exploit shellcode is installed to help maintain pe… Emails are written and designed to trick or fool the opener into clicking a link or downloading a file. 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. With an MSSP, they already have access and likely authority to manage users, update software, etc. 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. By the end of 2019, global ransomware events are projected to cost $22,184 per minute. Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that removing ransomware will not necessarily decrypt files that have already been encrypted. There are many ways for ransomware to spread. Instead, you’ll be working to restart and restore your device to an earlier, uninfected setting. If anyone encounters a new malware (ransomware) spreading vector, be sure to post it here so we can keep this information current. 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. DoublePulsar is the backdoor malware that EternalBlue checks to determine the existence and they are closely tied together. 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. 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