Ransomware is a specific and particularly virulent form of malware that has become a preferred weapon of threat actors. The goal of a ransomware attack is to encrypt business-critical data to restrict access and disrupt operations. Victims need to pay a ransom to regain access to their data or have other recovery methods in place. Perpetrators may also raise the stakes by exfiltrating data and threatening to release sensitive information if their financial demands are not met.
A successful ransomware attack can cripple an organization’s ability to maintain operations and service its customers and employees. The risks are elevated for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that may not have the technical capacity to quickly recover or the financial resources to withstand a lengthy outage. Companies in this situation may be forced to meet the threat actors’ demands in an attempt to regain access to their valuable data.
We are going to look at how a combination of threat intelligence (TI) and an extended detection and response (XDR) solution provides organizations with enhanced protection against ransomware attacks.
What is Threat Intelligence and XDR?
Threat intelligence is the practice of collecting and analyzing information from diverse sources regarding cyber threats that may impact an organization. The reliability of threat intelligence is influenced by the methods with which it is obtained. In the case of Samurai XDR, NTT’s Tier 1 internet backbone provides the raw material for developing threat intelligence. The platform monitors over 25% of the world’s internet traffic and provides essential information concerning known and emerging threats so they can be proactively addressed by security personnel.
An XDR solution replaces or augments technologies such as Network Detection and Response (NDR), Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR), and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR). XDR consolidates and improves the capabilities of these technologies for comprehensive threat detection and response functionality.
A major advantage of XDR is the elimination of the need to construct and maintain a security stack out of multiple solutions. This factor reduces the cost of providing robust cybersecurity and aligns with the needs of SMBs with a limited cybersecurity staff.
How TI and XDR Address the Steps in a Ransomware Attack
Ransomware attacks are often initiated by sophisticated threat actor groups employing refined strategies and tactics designed to subvert existing cybersecurity measures. TI and XDR offer organizations additional defensive mechanisms that offer targeted protection against some of the specific methods threat actors use to conduct an attack.
Ransomware attacks typically consist of the following multiple steps. Let’s look at how TI and XDR address these steps.
Cybercriminals engage in reconnaissance in an attempt to identify organizations that may be willing to pay to recover compromised data. Reconnaissance may include scanning for vulnerabilities or initiating phishing campaigns. TI can be instrumental in alerting organizations to specific tactics currently in favor of threat actors. Effective TI consolidates information from multiple sources including the dark web to help security personnel recognize emerging threats.
Gaining initial access to the environment
Threat actors need to gain access to the environment after identifying a potential target. This can be done via phishing emails, exploit kits, or attacking known software vulnerabilities. Here again, TI can give an organization the information it needs to protect itself against attempts to gain access to the environment.
Effective threat intelligence alerts users of the specific types of messages and exploits that are currently being employed by threat actors to embed ransomware in their IT environment. This information is instrumental in protecting valuable systems and data resources from a ransomware attack.
Privilege escalation and lateral movement
This is the most important step in a successful ransomware attack. After gaining initial access, threat actors attempt to increase privileges and subtly move laterally through the environment in search of valuable targets. An XDR solution can connect weak signals from across the environment and identify these lateral movements so they can be addressed before the ransomware is deployed.
Ransomware payload deployment
Ransomware deployment is the next step if threat actors successfully move laterally through the system and reach their intended target. Deployment may be performed through exploit kits, malicious downloads, or email attachments. TI and XDR can both be effective in preventing ransomware deployment.
The information available from TI alerts organizations about specific tactics used by threat actors. This might include listing known malicious attachments or downloads so a company can keep them out of the environment.
The analysis and functionality provided by XDR can identify and stop the anomalous behavior that is necessary when deploying ransomware. After moving laterally through the environment and locating a target, threat actors need to perform an activity to trigger the ransomware payload. This will typically involve taking actions that do not align with accepted business practices, such as downloading files to mission-critical computer systems.
TI and XDR can help prevent the deployment of ransomware. Once the ransomware is deployed and data is encrypted, an organization must rely on its recovery capabilities or take the risk of negotiating with the cybercriminals behind the attack.
The Benefits of Samurai’s Advanced XDR Solution
Samurai XDR offers enhanced cybersecurity against threat actors targeting IT environments with ransomware. Following are some of the advantages of deploying Samurai XDR.
- Samurai’s XDR platform employs threat intelligence from NTT’s Tier 1 internet backbone. The proprietary TI employed by Samurai XDR provides customers with the most comprehensive and updated threat intelligence available.
- The platform analyzes large and diverse volumes of telemetry. Samurai XDR offers integrations that collect end-point telemetry from vendors like Microsoft, Fortinet, Crowdstrike, Palo Alto Networks and Cisco.
- Advanced analytics and machine learning identify anomalous behavior that may indicate the presence of threat actors.
- Samurai XDR can identify the subtle lateral movements that may indicate the presence of an advanced persistent threat (APT).
- Suspicious activity can be deduced through the threat hunting capabilities offered by Samurai XDR. After identifying a suspicious event in the XDR Alerts dashboard, customers can use the Advanced Query feature to conduct further investigation and identify threats that need to be removed from the environment.
- The platform consolidates and prioritizes threats in a unified interface for enhanced productivity, an important feature for SMBs.
- A team of threat research experts continuously improves the platform’s functionality to ensure the most effective performance against sophisticated threat actors.
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