The Question You Never Want to Have to Ask

Why MFA Shouldn’t Be Optional

“Do you offer any help for decrypting files due to ransomware?”

This is a question we are asked with more frequency than ever before. And, sadly, it is often followed up with the information that their files were on “an internal server that was missed in the backup protocol by IT”.

Email phishing and brute force attacks are the most common methods cyber criminals use to get into your business network where they can set up to initiate ransomware attacks. The ransomware (malware) encrypts your data, which becomes unrecoverable without the decryption key. Usually, the only way to recover from a malware/ransomware attack is to rebuild systems and restore data from backups. If you have backups.

A “brute force” attack is typically used to get personal information such as passwords or passphrases, usernames, and Personal Identification Numbers (PINS). Scripts or specialized apps are used to carry out a string of continuous attempts to get the information desired. Cybersecurity researchers at Coveware analyzed ransomware attacks during the second quarter of 2021 and found that phishing and brute force attacks on unsecured desktops (remote and local) are among the most popular entry points for starting ransomware attacks. This is at least partly because it is relatively cheap and can be highly effective.

Phishing attacks are when cyber criminals send emails containing a malicious file attachment or hyperlink directing to a compromised website that delivers ransomware. Attacks against desktop logins include methods where cyber criminals use brute force to leverage weak or default usernames and passwords – or even get access because they got legitimate login credentials via a phishing email.

Software vulnerabilities and web-based application services are also among the popular vectors for delivering ransomware or exposing corporate networks to cyber criminals. While this type of attack is somewhat less frequent than the others, they are often leveraged by some of the most sophisticated and disruptive ransomware groups and nation/state bad actors.

  • Sodinokibi – also known as REvil – is responsible for some of the most high-profile ransomware attacks this year, including the massive ransomware attack on customers of Kaseya.
  • Contij – one of the most high-profile attacks by the group was the attack against the Irish healthcare system. Healthcare services across Ireland remained disrupted for months.
  • Avaddon – ransomware distributed via phishing emails.
  • Mespinoza and Hello Kitty are new forms of ransomware recently identified.

All of these have a common purpose in that they take advantage of weaknesses in security and exploit phishing tactics to lay the foundation for an attack on your network and possibly others.

Keeping systems updated, applying security patches and application software updates is an important aspect to keeping things secure. Known vulnerabilities can be exploited to gain access to the network, so keeping up with updates as the vendor supplies them has become more important than ever.

To help protect networks from being compromised, businesses should also apply multi-factor authentication (MFA) to desktop and applications.

MFA is an important tool to help stop intruders from breaching accounts and gaining access to the corporate network, and it can be the difference between keeping your data safe and working or discovering your files are digitally encrypted and completely unusable. Data encryption changes the data into code, and only the decryption key can read the code and return the data to a useable form. If you don’t have the key, the data typically cannot be decrypted.

Cyberattacks continue to evolve in their sophistication and frequency, and consequences of such attacks are growing. Private companies and public agencies alike must adapt their security techniques and embrace new security technologies while providing more end-user education and training.

Mendelson Consulting and NOOBEH Cloud Services take security very seriously and we have the experience and expertise to assist businesses with transforming their operations to be more efficient and effective. Our cloud team works exclusively with private tenant accounts on Microsoft Azure, and offers MFA security and other solutions to protect local and remote resources, helping keep your valuable information safe and available when you need it.

“How can we get started?” is the question you should be asking.

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