The Future of Cyber Security
Ransomware attacks are fast becoming a regular global occurrence. From the shut-down of the entire Buffalo Public School system in March 2021 for an entire week through to the $50 million ransomware demand made to Acer and the attack on Quanta Computer in April, organizations are regularly making the headlines as victims of ransomware attacks.
Ransomware attacks have the potential to be incredibly damaging - victims can see personal data published online, as well as be blocked from accessing their systems in perpetuity unless the demands of the ransomware criminals are met. Although ransomware can contain extremely sophisticated cryptography, it's not unbeatable!
As fast as criminals come up with fresh malware that can be used to instigate ransomware attacks, cyber security experts are coming up with methods to both prevent and detect ransomware, limiting its potential to cause damage (and therefore its potential for use as a ransom tool).
Here we consider what ransomware is, and the solutions cyber security companies are developing to neutralize the threat that it poses.
What is Ransomware?
At its most basic, ransomware is a piece of malware that allows an attacker to gain access to the target's computer system, gaining control over its activities. Once control has been achieved, the attacker can instigate a range of destructive options. As the primary objective of the attacker is usually to obtain money, they frequently demand a ransom (hence the term ransomware) to be paid before the malware is neutralized.
What is the Future of Cyber Security's Role in Neutralizing the Threat of Ransomware?
Protecting companies and their clients from ransomware requires a multi-faceted solution. Ransomware criminals are ruthless in their approach, frequently targeting small and medium businesses (who they suspect to have less sophisticated protection). Luckily, cyber security is responding proactively to this, providing a suite of options to reduce the risk of a successful attack.
Increasing Focus on Prevention
A key element of cyber security involves preventing an attack in the first instance. Although the most obvious element of prevention is a strong firewall, this is only one part of the answer.
Building corporate awareness of the need for online vigilance is critical - something as simple as opening an unsolicited email (phishing) can be all that's needed for a malware virus to be released. Screening emails, downloads, and other incoming data for potential threats need to be both a manual and a digital process.
Of particular concern in 2021 is the rise of phishing emails involving Covid-19. With individuals eager to seek information on the pandemic, Covid is a topic that will often tempt viewers to open an email where usually they would be more circumspect.
If a company has its files backed up and has minimized the damage that a malware attack can do, there is little incentive to pay a ransom in the event of an attack. As well as putting measures in place to prevent an attack, pro-actively putting measures in place to reduce the damage an attack can cause is crucial to reduce the impact of a malware attack.
Faster Threat Detection using AI
One of the reasons a piece of ransomware can be so deadly is that it may be designed to escape detection. Cryptography may be used to create a piece of viral code that appears different to the recipient than it does to the attacker. This facility enables ransomware to penetrate cyber security systems undetected.
Though programming AI to detect malware can be challenging, it is possible to create AI that picks up on unusual activity almost as soon as it begins in a system. AI can be used to replace manual security systems, potentially allowing far greater amounts of data to be scanned for irregularities in a much shorter space of time.
Increased Focus on Data Privacy
Given the growing amount of legislation surrounding data privacy, and the potential for companies to be sued should third-party data be stolen or compromised, cyber security will be increasingly concentrating on data privacy. Rather than being simply one part of a cyber security package, data privacy is likely to become a separate area of responsibility, requiring specific solutions.
Effective data privacy, protection, and management are critical to minimizing the risk that ransomware attacks can present.
Remote Recruitment Increases the Risk of Internal Cyber Security Threats
One of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is the significant rise in remote working. In addition to increased remote working by an existing workforce, many employers are also recruiting remotely. Without meeting a new employee face-to-face, it's much easier for a criminal to obtain access to an organization's network.
The solution to this problem is a combination of stringent HR policies (to reduce the likelihood of inappropriate personnel being recruited in the first instance), alongside layers of network security that help to minimize the risk of remote workers being given an unwarranted level of network access.
Cross-Departmental Approaches to Network Security
Traditionally, network security was a niche activity that was largely confined to cyber security experts. What's become apparent in recent years is that security relating specifically to the network is no longer sufficient to significantly reduce the risk of ransomware.
From appropriate recruitment procedures through to modifying employee behavior, having a real-time awareness of exactly where data is at any given time, and paying particular attention to the challenges that effective data protection pose, maintaining online security has become a key part of every employee's role.
As our society moves towards greater remote working and increases the spectrum of activities that are carried out online and/or by AI, the need for greater online safety vigilance increases. As digital security improves, cyber-attacks and hacking are also becoming more sophisticated.
To keep risk low, multi-layered preventative measures that cut across every part of the workforce, alongside greater corporate focus and resources for high-grade cyber security is essential.
Get in touch with the team at SecPoint to find out more.