Evolving Threats: Battling COVID and Ransomware Variants
As the world prepares to address emerging COVID variants, there is another threat to people’s security: emerging ransomware variants.
As defined by the FBI, ransomware is: a computer program created by a malicious actor to
- infect a computer or server,
- encrypt its contents so they cannot be accessed or used, and
- allow the malicious actors to demand that a ransom be paid in exchange for the decryption key.
Ransomware attacks have already reached record numbers in 2021. Some of the emerging variants include: LockBit, Hive, Egregor, Pay2Key, RansomExx, and Everest. Ransomware attackers are becoming more aggressive with their strategies – including by shifting more to data exfiltration before locking the data and preventing its use by legitimate company users. There have been reports of hackers cold calling victims to pressure them into paying to regain access to their data and even going so far as to threaten employees.
Hackers have been able to take full advantage of the ongoing pandemic. The large-scale increase in employees working from home has created an opportunity for more attacks. In addition to sending emails with malicious links and attachments, hackers have been able to use stolen Remote Desktop Protocol credentials to gain access to networks. Once access is gained to the domain controller, hackers can spread malware to any endpoint within the network.
With the large threat posed by ransomware attacks, it is important to ensure that strong cybersecurity programs are in place. Some best practices for avoiding such attacks include:
- Regular data backups
- Cybersecurity training
- Phishing testing
- Strong passwords combined with multifactor identification
- Dark web monitoring for compromised credentials
Much like the coronavirus variants which have emerged, ransomware variants continue to evolve and present a dangerous threat to organizations. A multi-pronged approach is key, but we also must remain nimble enough to evolve our defense methods to keep pace with the evolving threats.
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