SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Why we need to stop calling it the ‘year of ransomware’

Mon 20 Mar 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Without fail for the past few years, there’s someone who takes it upon themselves to declare it the ‘year of ransomware.’ And if you wanted a truly safe bet, you might as well go with the company who dares to call the next decade the one of ransomware or worse. There’s simply nothing different or, frankly, insightful about these claims. 

While its continued growth over the past year may make it seem otherwise, ransomware didn't come out of nowhere. In fact, it has been a money-making venture for over ten years, growing as organised criminals started testing the business case for this particular infection and recognising its potential as a profit model.

So of course 2017 is going to be another year of ransomware, globally but especially regionally, building on the ‘years of ransomware’ that came before. According to Gartner, Australia is the second most commonly attacked country after the US for ransomware.

At a cyber security conference last year, Charles Lim, industry principal of Cyber Security Practice at Frost & Sullivan, said that in 2015 more than 50 per cent of the world’s cryptolocker ransomware attacks were targeted towards Australia and New Zealand, impacting the Australian economy by close to AU $17 billion. Even more worrisome for us in Australia is the fact that 29 per cent of those total attacks were aimed at the energy sector.

The highly profitable nature of ransomware attacks, coupled with the fact that most enterprises lack sufficient defences, attracts a more advanced breed of cyber criminal. These sophisticated threat actors are not only motivated by the potential for a big pay out, they’ve discovered that ransomware attacks can be faster and more anonymous (read: less risky) than exploits used to steal credit card numbers and other sensitive data.

Ransomware in the wild

One recent instance of ransomware hit a large, critical infrastructure company. An employee opened a malicious attachment infected with malware that encrypted files and paralysed internal computers. The company was forced to limit its email service, shut down its accounting system and disable customer service lines, but worst of all, it had to suspend utilities within its service area. 

Entities such as healthcare continue to emerge as prime targets, with hospitals in the U.S. and Germany, for example, agreeing to pay ransoms rather than risk their patients’ lives. According to Frost & Sullivan, while major healthcare providers in APAC have initiatives to comply with security standards such as HIPAA, the use of legacy security tools to meet minimal compliance standards will not keep up with new types of ransomware.

It is not that often where you hear about ransomware impacting financial services institutions, but it happens all the time. For example, adversaries will target banks using official logos or badges of government organisations like the AFP, ACC or local police department, demanding that a fake fine be paid for transgressions or issues of compliance.

Where to from here?

It should be obvious for Australian companies to expect ransomware’s potent cocktail of sharp business acumen and psychological button-pushing to continue to expand throughout the years.

From large enterprises to critical infrastructure organisations, many businesses are desperate to maintain system uptime not only from a business perspective, but often for health and safety reasons, to say nothing of the potential loss of confidence and tarnished brand image that can result. Ransomware criminals will continue to exploit this opportunity to make much more per ransom transaction.

These opportunities for ransomware to find its way into your organisation increase every year because traditional tools and methods don’t cut it. Conventional endpoint protection that relies on signature-based detection is not up to the task of finding ransomware before it strikes.

Adding solutions such as whitelisting, the ability to detect Indicators of Compromise (IOC), or machine learning can increase your protection, but in some cases they will be unable to prevent an attack. And unlike malware infections that often take hold and slowly exfiltrate your data, in the case of ransomware, prevention is often your only recourse.

Ransomware highlights the need for a change of focus from what already happened within a network to looking at potential issues as they happen. A proactive, behaviour-based approach is crucial, and one of the best ways enterprises can shift away from purely reactive security is through Indicators of Attack (IOA). 

IOAs are used to identify and block additional unknown ransomware in the early stages of an attack before it can fully execute and inflict damage. It protects against new categories of ransomware that do not use files to encrypt victim systems and even provides a reliable way to prevent ransomware from deleting backups. 

All this makes IOAs a major breakthrough for ransomware prevention. Instead of trying to fight a losing battle of detection based on ever-changing contents and characteristics of a ransomware program, IOAs monitor, detect and stop the effects of what ransomware is attempting to achieve before any damage is done.

In fact, the IOA approach is so effective and resilient against ransomware iterations that one IOA can cover many variants and versions of multiple ransomware families, including new ones as they are released in the wild.

While 2017 will definitely be the year of ransomware again, Australian organisations have it within their means to use the right processes and tools to start shifting it into the year of proactive defence against ransomware, instead. 

Article by Michael Sentonas, vice president of Technology Strategy, CrowdStrike APAC.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
Story image
Ransomware
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Apple
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
Story image
Cybersecurity
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Security driving customer identity & access management adoption
"CIAM allows businesses to embed a secure identity layer into their consumer and SaaS applications, facilitating secure, seamless end user experiences."
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Remote Working
RDP attacks on the rise, Kaspersky experts offer advice
"Given that remote work is here to stay, we urge companies to seriously look into securing their remote and hybrid workforce to protect their data."
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Solutions
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
Story image
Motorola Solutions
Motorola Solutions deploys communication system to 5th Japanese airport
Motorola Solutions with its partner, Nippon Airport Radio Services deployed the mission critical communication system to Kansai.
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Compliance
SentinelOne integrates with Torq to empower security teams
"With Torq, security teams can extend the power of SentinelOne to systems across the organisation to benefit from a proactive security posture.”
Story image
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Ransomware
Businesses unprepared to defend against ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks continue to impact organisations worldwide with high costs, but businesses are still largely unprepared.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
SonicWall
Find out how you and your business can prevent being caught out by everything from ransomware to cryptojacking.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Infosys
Preparing for the digital decade with the right workforce strategies
For a decade that started under the pall of the pandemic, the 2020s is poised to end with a bang with the digital economy swelling to a high across the world.