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Top 3 Ransomware Infection Vectors & Preventative Measures

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Cybercriminals are always looking for new vectors to infect a system or an enterprise. They use diverse tactics and approaches to plant ransomware into a system and wreak havoc. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the frequency of ransomware attacks on private firms, government organizations, consumers, and devices is set to persist and spike over the next five years. By 2031, some analysts suggest, the cyberattack frequency will jump to one every two seconds. Β 

What are ransomware infection vectors?

Ransomware is a specific type of computer malware that limits or prevents users from accessing their computer resources. It locks the system screen and encrypts all the data within it until the victim pays a hefty ransom. There are many types of ransomware families, collectively known as crypto-ransomware, on the market. They target specific file types through ransomware infection vectors, such as RDP misuse, phishing, and software vulnerabilities. Here's a summary of how these attack vectors contribute to cybercriminals' goals:

RDP misuse

Malware researchers have changed the name of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to Ransomware Deployment Protocol (RDP), retaining the abbreviation. According to a report by Unit 42, the Ransomware Deployment Protocol is the most frequent attack vector, accounting for over 50% of 1,000-plus incidents analyzed. RDP is a Microsoft Windows protocol designed for remote connectivity. It has been gaining popularity recently as it is being used to access virtual machines (VMs) in the Cloud environment. However, its usefulness is not lost on cybercriminals, too. They can target Cloud instances or forgotten systems exposed to RDP. With the widespread use of RDP, more ransomware attacks are occurring, leading to expensive downtime or loss of data.Β 

Preventative measures: Enterprises can mitigate this attack by preventing systems and Cloud services from unnecessary exposure to RDP. Companies can also auto-activate backup Cloud servers if data becomes compromised, locked, or encrypted via this ransomware infection vector. These measures can help reduce downtime and extend resource availability.

Phishing emails

Phishing emails are a ransomware infection vector that leverages email services. Phishing emails are fraudulent emails sent by cybercriminals to trick users into parting with sensitive data. Through emails, cybercriminals can send ransomware via attachments directly to the victim. The cybercriminals usually redirect the target user to a malicious site or link with ransomware-as-a-service or email an attachment that has nasty ransomware tied to the file.Β This mechanism of ransomware infection has remained a steady favourite for cybercriminals for many years, resulting in 42% of global cyberattacks. The only safeguard against these attacks is to educate employees to recognize malicious emails and avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown senders.

Preventative measures: Cybersecurity awareness training is a vital part of an organization's security program. This will help employees recognize malicious emails and protect against ransomware infection vectors such as phishing. Additionally, using a cloud-based email security service can help block these types of attacks before they reach the user.

Exploiting software vulnerability

Exploiting software vulnerabilities is the least common technique for ransomware infections, but it's still a significant threat. Using this method, cybercriminals first try to identify any vulnerabilities in the target victim's installed software. They can then exploit those software vulnerabilities and try to find ways to deploy or deliver ransomware secretly. It's a time-consuming method, but it works effectively because it is covert, especially if the software vulnerability isn't known. This vector accounts for 14% of all ransomware attacks. Disruptive gangs proficient in exploiting software vulnerabilities & deploying ransomware into the target system prefer this vector. Sodinokibi, popularly known as REvil, is one such gang responsible for performing the highest percentage (16.5%) of ransomware attacks in 2021.

Preventative measures: Businesses can keep their systems up-to-date and consult cybersecurity experts like Packetlabs for its industry-leading security services to protect against ransomware attackers. In addition, having a strong software policy that prohibits employees from running unapproved applications from unknown sources can reduce the chances of an attack.

Conclusion

Ransomware infection vectors are diverse and can exploit a variety of vulnerabilities in an organization's systems. The best way to protect against these attacks is through awareness training, strong software policies, and up-to-date security solutions. By implementing these measures, businesses can reduce the chances of ransomware infections and keep their data safe.

To protect your enterprise from ransomware attacks and explore cybersecurity hygiene, contact Packetlabs today.