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Cyber Security

The Rising Risk of Ransomware Attacks on Organisations and How to Mitigate it

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According to the 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, “ransomware volume increased 105% year over year and is up 232% since 2019.” With the risk of ransomware attacks continuing to rise, it’s crucial to shield your organization from these attacks to avoid unwanted financial fallout.

Ransomware attacks commonly target an organization’s file servers and databases using malicious code to encrypt files such as documents, images, and videos on the system. Ransomware can also be programmed to find vulnerabilities on the network and use these to spread to other systems in an organization. Ransomware attacks are typically executed through social engineering like widespread phishing attacks, but cybercriminals can also specifically target a certain entity, sometimes a popular one. These attacks have the potential to cripple an entire organization’s database.

Once encrypted by ransomware, files are almost impossible to retrieve without the decryption key. To get this key, the victim is demanded to pay a ransom—often millions of dollars—within a short timeframe, usually 24 to 48 hours. If the victim organization keeps a backup of its files, then it’ll be able to restore those files and avoid paying the ransom. If not, the organization often has no option but to pay the ransom.

However, if you fall victim to a ransomware attack, it’s strongly recommended that you don’t pay the ransom to regain access to your encrypted files. This is because you are relying on the integrity of a cybercriminal. The cybercriminal may not give you the decryption key after the transaction or, even worse, they may continue to target your organization and repeatedly demand higher ransoms now that they know you’re willing to pay.

In recent years, it has become much easier to develop ransomware, resulting in the continued rise in ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals can develop and execute a ransomware attack with readily available open-source code and with easy-to-use drag-and-drop platforms. It is also hard to track these cybercriminals because transactions involving ransomware are commonly made using cryptocurrency.

Ransomware attacks can result in exploitation and loss of your organization’s critical and confidential data. But there are steps you can take to prevent and mitigate these attacks.

Back-Up Your Data
Take regular backups of all your files and data; this way, even if your system is infected, you can erase the infected files and recover them using your backups. This cannot prevent a ransomware attack, but it can mitigate the risk of losing all your data.

Keep Your System and Software Up-to-Date
Maintain a healthy patching routine. This includes updating your software as soon as possible when patches for security vulnerabilities are released by vendors. To keep your device secure from ransomware attacks, use a security solution that can identify these attacks at their earliest stages and mitigate their impact.

Be Careful Where You Click
Beware of social engineering attacks and email scams, and avoid downloading files from untrusted sources as these can result in your system being exploited by malicious software like ransomware. What makes social engineering attacks so dangerous is that they take advantage of human error rather than system vulnerabilities.

Create Awareness Among Employees About Ransomware Attacks
Since human error is a major vector cybercriminal manipulate to carry out ransomware attacks, it is essential to educate and train employees on social engineering and email phishing attacks to effectively secure your organization against them.

ManageEngine’s security information and event management (SIEM) solutions protect your enterprise network from cyberattacks and insider threats. SIEM solutions collect and analyze the security data generated by your devices in real-time, alerting you about vulnerabilities, indicators of compromise, and any suspicious activity to help you mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks.

Cyber Security

New Hacktivism Model Trends Worldwide

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Check Point Research (CPR) outlines a new model of hacktivism now trending worldwide. Five characteristics mark today’s form of hacktivism, according to researchers: political ideology, leadership hierarchy, formal recruiting, advanced tools, and public relations. CPR gives the hacktivist group Killnet an example of the latest model, detailing its attacks by country and attack timeline. CPR warns that hacktivism that originates in conflict-related geographies has the potential to scale worldwide.

  • Before, hacktivism was mostly focused on a few individuals carrying small-scale DDoS and defacement attacks
  • Now, hacktivism is better organized, structured, and sophisticated
  • CPR believes the new model of hacktivism began in conflict areas in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and proliferated to other areas during 2022

Check Point Research outlines a new model of hacktivism now trending worldwide. The hacktivism of the new model is better organized, structured and sophisticated, compared to the past. Hacktivist groups no longer consist of a few random individuals who carry out small DDoS or defacement attacks on low-tier websites. These are coordinated organizations with distinct characteristics previously unseen.

Key Characteristics:

  • Consistent political ideology (manifestos and/or sets of rules)
  • Hierarchy of leadership (Smaller groups relay attack orders to “commanders)
  • Formal recruitment process (Based on minimum requirements)
  • Tools that the groups provide to their members (Advanced tools for notoriety)
  • Robust public relations functions (Presences on major websites)

Why now?
CPR suspects the shift in the hacktivism model began roughly two years ago, with several hacktivist groups like Hackers of Savior, Black Shadow, and Moses Staff that focused exclusively on attacking Israel. CPR believes the Russian-Ukrainian war has proliferated the new model of hacktivism significantly. For example, The IT Army of Ukraine was publicly mobilized by the Ukrainian government to attack Russia. The new hacktivism also saw groups that supported the Russian geopolitical narrative, with groups like Killnet, Xaknet, From Russia with Love (FRwL), NoName057(16), and more.


Case Study: Killnet, from East to West
In April of this year, the group completely shifted its focus to support Russian geopolitical interests all over the world. The group claimed to have executed more than 550 attacks, between late February and September. Only 45 of them were against Ukraine, less than 10% of the total number of attacks.

  1. March: the group executed a DDoS attack on Bradley International Airport in Connecticut (US)
  2. April: websites belonging to the Romanian Government, such as the Ministry of Defense, Border Police, National Railway Transport Company and a commercial bank, were rendered unreachable for several hours.
  3. May: massive DDOS attacks were executed against two major EU countries, Germany and Italy
  4. June: Two very significant waves of attacks were executed against Lithuania and Norway in response to severe geopolitical developments between those countries and Russia
  5. July: Killnet focused their efforts on Poland and caused several government websites to be unavailable.
  6. August: Cyber-attacks were deployed on Latvia, Estonia and USA institutions
  7. September: the group targeted Asia for the first time and focused its efforts on Japan, due to Japan’s support for Ukraine

Sergey Shykevich, Threat Intelligence Group Manager at Check Point Software, said, “Hacktivism now has a whole new meaning. Before, the term meant a few random folks launching small DDoS attacks. Hacktivism is no longer just about social groups with fluid agendas. Now, hacktivism is better organized, structured and more sophisticated. I believe everything changed within the past year, especially with the start of the Ukraine-Russia war.”

“There are some key characteristics that mark the new model of hacktivism, including a consistent political ideology, a clear hierarchy of leadership, formal recruiting processes, sophisticated tool set, and robust PR capabilities. Though the change began in specific conflict-related geographical regions, it has now spread west and even further. Major corporations and governments in Europe and the US are being heavily targeted by this emerging type of hacktivism. All this allows the new hacktivism groups to be mobilized to governmental narratives and achieve strategic and broad-based goals with higher success levels – and much wider public impact – than ever before,” he said.

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Cyber Security

Kaspersky Industrial Cybersecurity Now Delivers EDR

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With new EDR functionality in Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity, customers can now gain instant visibility on operational technology (OT) security incidents and run response actions. The solution also helps reveal hidden weaknesses in networks, be it vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, or incompliance with policies and regulations. With the new features of active polling and a physical topology map, organizations can see even more of the assets in their OT network and how they interconnect. These new capabilities and the deeper integration of Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity for Nodes and Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity for Networks greatly enhance the OT visibility and control, compliance, and threat protection.

IT and OT convergence bring a growing number of connections, equipment, and services to industrial organizations. Maintaining control, availability, security, and compliance will require a new generation of dedicated cybersecurity solutions. According to IDC Worldwide IT/OT Convergence 2022 Predictions, by 2024, 30% of industrial enterprises will incorporate centralized security management tools to bridge the IT/OT gap. The renewed Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity platform comes alongside this trend.

With EDR in Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity for Nodes, a cybersecurity team can track malicious activity, analyze the root cause through attack spread path visualization, and run response actions on SCADA computers and operator workstations. The product provides a wide range of response actions that do not impact the industrial process unless there is explicit operator intervention, including quarantining or removing a malicious object, prohibition running a malicious process in the future, and so on. To ensure the threat does not spread to other machines, security specialists can create indicators of compromise (IoCs) or artifacts to indicate a system has been breached and run a cross-endpoint response based on these IoCs.

The EDR functionality is delivered as part of KICS for Nodes without the need to install additional hardware. It works on any operating system, including Windows XP, and is optimal for industrial networks as it doesn’t overload them with traffic and has no impact on ICS hosts. On top of this, it doesn’t require any specific skills from IT or OT security administrators.

With Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity for Networks, customers can implement a risk-oriented approach to cybersecurity. The product can now detect weaknesses that can potentially put OT integrity at risk or cause technology process disruption. The areas covered include vulnerable network architecture (access to external networks, lack of segmentation, multi-homed devices); weak host security settings (open ports, lack of authorization, disabled firewalls); obsolete, vulnerable, unwanted, unencrypted protocols, and anomalies in network protocols; outdated OS; unauthorized devices; and vulnerabilities in the PLCs. All risks are scored for severity in the management console, so security teams can focus on the most critical ones first.

The updated Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity for Nodes is able to automatically audit OT hosts or a group of hosts for vulnerabilities in the software, misconfigurations, and compliance with local or international regulations and corporate policies. The product uses open vulnerability and assessment language (OVAL) content to assess hosts. By default, the product provides a SCADA vulnerability database from Kaspersky ICS-CERT in OVAL format. Any OVAL database can be used, be it the NIST, CIS, or other regulations or custom samples.

Network and device visibility is enhanced thanks to active polling and the industrial network physical topology map in Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity for Networks. Active polling helps to identify assets in OT systems and their configuration, while a topology map visualizes the network architecture: how assets are physically connected and communicate with each other. With this data, OT operators or security teams can quickly understand elements such as where in the network a problem occurs and to what physical object in the production area it refers, allowing them to fix it faster.

Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity for Nodes also gives OT security experts a portable USB scanner to use on machines for which policies restrict the installation of any software, including cybersecurity products. These can be old endpoints with outdated software or those that are too critical to install something on them. Another use case is subcontractors’ equipment, which they may use inside the customer’s OT network. OT security specialists can use a simple USB flash drive to download the scanner from KICS for Nodes and then use it to scan the isolated machine. The scanner doesn’t install anything on the machine but provides information about any threats found on it, so security teams can plan the necessary actions.

As a platform, Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity also ensures native integration of all its components, including KICS for Nodes for Windows and Linux, KICS for Networks, and orchestration through a single management platform. Deeper integration of KICS for Nodes and KICS for Networks enables network alerts enriched with data about a host, its processes, and under which user it was launched. IT/OT security teams, SOC analysts, and SCADA operators now have more visibility over suspicious actions as a result and can make informed decisions about response actions.

“With this update, we are empowering our customers with a risk-oriented and compliance-oriented OT security management platform. Kaspersky Industrial CyberSecurity shines the light on incidents and hidden vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and other weaknesses to minimize the risk of disruption to critical industrial processes. Along with corporate cybersecurity products, Kaspersky Industrial Cybersecurity is a crucial element of the ecosystem for industrial organizations to protect their assets from any threat vector, whether it exploits IT or OT. And through the native integration of all components in the ecosystem, and with a single management platform, we are gradually implementing the extended detection and response (XDR) concept for industrial cybersecurity in our portfolio,” commented Andrey Strelkov, Senior Product Manager at Kaspersky.

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Cyber Security

Global Cyber Security Revenue to Reach $334 Billion in 2026: GlobalData

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Cyber security has emerged as a top priority for organizations and consumers alike, especially following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to new ways of living and working with a huge reliance on digital infrastructure that remains vulnerable to cyberattacks. Against this backdrop, the global cyber security revenue is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7% from $220 billion in 2021 to $334 billion in 2026, forecasts GlobalData, a leading data, and analytics company.

The surge in the volume and sophistication of cyber-attacks across organizations is expected to favor the enterprise cyber security market revenue growth over the forecast period. Madhumita Chaudhary, Practice Head at GlobalData, comments: “Despite the continued investments and growth in the cyber security space, the frequency of attacks and breaches have shown no signs of abatement. More than billions of records containing critical information were compromised since the pandemic. As such, enterprise cyber security will continue to dominate the overall cyber security demand in terms of market share, capturing a sizeable revenue share exceeding 90% in 2021.”

GlobalData’s latest report, “Cyber Security Market Size, Share and Trends Analysis Report by Type (Enterprise, Consumer), Product (Security Consulting, Managed Service Providers, Identity and Access Management), Vertical, Enterprise Size, Region, and Segment Forecasts, 2021-2026,” reveals that the consumer cyber security market too will register a healthy CAGR, exceeding 10% during 2021-2026. Chaudhary explains: “The rapid emergence of connected devices and associated security risks with no baseline security upgrades will favor the segment growth over the forecast period.”

In addition to the rising frequency of attacks, ransomware is also gaining prominence, and has been used in several high-profile attacks. It is the most concerning type of cyberattack for business leaders. Chaudhary continues: “Cyber security should be at the forefront of all digital transformation strategies. A lapse in focus could mean hefty repercussions in form of accelerated ransomware attacks.”

Asia-Pacific (APAC) is more vulnerable to cyber threats owing to the critical infrastructure and growing financial sector in the region. Furthermore, an increase in digital transformation initiatives, penetration of internet connectivity, and susceptibility stemming from IoT connectivity is likely to increase the adoption of cyber security solutions.

Chaudhary concludes: “Emerging countries in the APAC region like India, Singapore, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan are facing increasing cyber-crimes in terms of ransomware, phishing, and network attacks, and are projected to witness strong demand for cyber security products & services.”

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