Reports of serious malware-related security breaches have once again been making the rounds in recent weeks. As intruders cause havoc across entire IT infrastructures, their victims suffer severe disruptions to critical business processes, with losses easily running into the millions.
Ransomware is a type of malware that limits access to data and/or systems, or locks users out altogether, typically by encrypting the assets that fall prey to an attack. Victims are then forced to pay a ransom for the key to unlock their resources.
The ransomware family of malicious software includes strains such as Emotet, TeslaCrypt, CryptoWall, Locky, etc. Emotet, for instance, automates highly advanced attacks by harvesting Outlook address books and e-mail content on infected systems and sending genuine-looking spam messages to recent contacts.
Emotet and other ransomware proliferate rapidly through viral campaigns that are an acute threat to companies, government agencies and private individuals at a very large scale.
Once it has infiltrated a system, Emotet can download additional payloads. This second-stage malware can then e.g. snoop login credentials or enable unrestricted remote access to systems and data. As criminals constantly reconfigure their malware, popular antivirus programs are often unable to detect the latest strains right away, and attempts to purge malicious code from infected systems often fail as some of it continues to hide in the nooks and crannies of its host.
Ransomware-related incidents are often the result of companies neglecting their defences. Poorly maintained systems, missing or outdated backups, weak admin passwords or unsegmented networks all add to the list of vulnerabilities that criminals can exploit, as does employee behaviour, which is often central to attacks. In fact, some attacks are now so well executed that they are extremely difficult to detect. Still, companies often save on measures to sensitise their employees as their last line of defence.
There’s no such thing as 100% secure. Still, with the right set of technological and organisational measures in place, organisations can dramatically reduce the risk of infection. And if a company does fall victim to an attack, they mean both data and systems can be quickly recovered.
Answer the following questions to find out if your current technical and organisational measures are suitable to effectively defend your organisation against attacks.
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