Looking To Prevent Ransomware? Lock Down These Initial Access Methods First

Looking To Prevent Ransomware? Lock Down These Initial Access Methods First

Nearly three-quarters of all cyberattacks involve ransomware which means a majority of defenders are failing to detect ransomware successfully. The fact is, ransomware isn’t the first stage of the attack, it’s often the last stage; and cyberattacks usually get labeled or categorized as ransomware when data is encrypted or stolen and a ransom is demanded by cybercriminals.

The key to ransomware prevention isn’t discovering methods and tools that help defend against ransomware, which should be part of your ransomware recovery strategy. True ransomware prevention lies in identifying and cracking down on methods of initial access that ransomware operators abuse to get ransomware into the victim’s environment.

Key Initial Access Methods That Lead To A Ransomware Infection

Listed below are some of the most common vectors of initial access used by ransomware attackers:

Social Engineering

Most ransomware attacks start with a phishing email, a malware-laden attachment, link to a malicious website, etc. Victims are social-engineered or tricked into running a malicious program that infects their device, Ransomware groups are evolving their social engineering tactics faster than they are innovating technology to thwart victim networks

Unpatched Software

Threat actors are actively searching the internet for weaknesses in software code and zero-day exploits to break into their targets. More than 76% of vulnerabilities discovered between 2010 and 2019 are still being exploited by ransomware. In 2022, there were about 344 vulnerabilities that could be directly associated with ransomware and this number is growing approximately 19% year over year.

Password Guessing Or Cracking

Why break down windows when you can walk through the door? Threat actors are always looking for ways to steal or hijack user credentials so they can circumvent formal security controls and procedures. They do so by phishing people (creating fake login pages and getting them to enter credentials), by brute forcing passwords or by acquiring credentials from the dark web, of which there are only 24 billion.

Remote Access Services

Remote services such as VPN and remote desktop protocol (RDP) help attackers gain access to victim environments, elevate system access and install malware remotely. It’s worth noting that credentials are a prerequisite to hijacking remote access services and therefore, attackers will again phish users or brute-force RDP logins to breach access. There’s also been a surge in the selling of stolen VPN and RDP credentials on underground forums from a handful of initial access brokers.

Unintentional And Intentional Insider Threats

A quarter of all breaches in 2022 can be attributed to social engineering. When you add human error, misconfigurations and misuse of privileged access, the human element accounts for nearly 82% of all breaches. Attackers are known to leverage poor user practices as a means of delivering ransomware payloads to their targets. In some cases, attackers will even go the extra mile of bribing people. For example, the LAPSUSS ransomware gang famously offered $20,000 bribes to employees working inside of leading tech companies.

How Can Organizations Lock Down These Initial Access Vectors?

Let’s say you want to stop somebody from breaking into your house. One of the first things you must do is figuring how they will get in. A similar analogy applies to ransomware. If you want to prevent hackers from breaking in, you need to understand the most common ways an attacker can get in and then lock down those means of initial access. The above five methods pretty much sums up the initial stages of a ransomware attack and therefore it is important that all organizations focus on locking down these attack vectors by:

Strengthening Security Behavior In Employees: As mentioned earlier, the human factor is responsible for a vast majority of breaches. If employees are reminded of security best practices regularly (strong passwords, verify domain names, think before you click, pause before you download, etc.) and are trained at regular intervals using phishing simulations, testing, and coaching, then this can help develop a sixth sense to remain wary of suspicious emails, texts, etc.

Patching Systems Regularly: Clearly a no-brainer but data shows most organizations are not patching as regularly as they should be. Security teams should deploy a mechanism or process that keeps vulnerabilities in check, ensures that all software is up-to-date and all bug fixes are proactively applied.

Keeping Security Controls In Check: Endpoint detection and response (EDR), phishing-resistant multi-factor authentication, firewalls, anti-spam, password managers, offline backups, are important tools. It's also recommended that security teams disable RDP or limit its use to fewer individuals to prevent its exploitation or misuse. Security teams must also analyze logs, scan for vulnerabilities, and monitor endpoints regularly for any traces of initial access or suspicious activity.

Ransomware is a symptom, not a root cause. Treat your root causes first and watch your symptoms go away. Lock-down the most common methods of initial access by practicing a defense-in-depth approach and this will go a long way in making your organization resilient to ransomware extortion and breaches.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Busy South Africa Building Integrates Custom Access Control System

    Nicol Corner, based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, South Africa, is home to a six-star fitness club, prime office space, and an award-winning rooftop restaurant. This is the first building in South Africa to have its glass façade fully incorporate fritted glazing, saving 35% on energy consumption. Nicol Corner (Pty) LTD has developed a landmark with sophisticated design and unique architecture by collaborating with industry-leading partners and specifying world-class equipment throughout the project. This includes installing a high-spec, bespoke security and access control system. Read Now

  • Only 13 Percent of Research Institutions Are Prepared for AI

    A new survey commissioned by SHI International and Dell Technologies underscores the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while exposing significant gaps in preparedness at many research institutions. Read Now

  • Survey: 70 Percent of Organizations Have Established Dedicated SaaS Security Teams

    Seventy percent of organizations have prioritized investment in SaaS security, establishing dedicated SaaS security teams, despite economic uncertainty and workforce reductions. This was a key finding in the fourth Annual SaaS Security Survey Report: 2025 CISO Plans and Priorities released today by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining standards, certifications, and best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    The latest Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform offers next-generation smart camera IoT solutions to improve safety and security across enterprises, cities and spaces. The Vision Intelligence Platform was expanded in March 2022 with the introduction of the QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC), which delivers superior artificial intelligence (AI) inferencing at the edge. 3

  • Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden Door Controls is pleased to announce that, in response to soaring customer demand, it has expanded its range of ValueWave™ no-touch switches to include a narrow (slimline) version with manual override. This override button is designed to provide additional assurance that the request to exit switch will open a door, even if the no-touch sensor fails to operate. This new slimline switch also features a heavy gauge stainless steel faceplate, a red/green illuminated light ring, and is IP65 rated, making it ideal for indoor or outdoor use as part of an automatic door or access control system. ValueWave™ no-touch switches are designed for easy installation and trouble-free service in high traffic applications. In addition to this narrow version, the CM-221 & CM-222 Series switches are available in a range of other models with single and double gang heavy-gauge stainless steel faceplates and include illuminated light rings. 3

  • AC Nio

    AC Nio

    Aiphone, a leading international manufacturer of intercom, access control, and emergency communication products, has introduced the AC Nio, its access control management software, an important addition to its new line of access control solutions. 3