What is Ransomware?

Recent headlines have brought increased visibility to an age-old problem, which continues to evolve: ransomware. It remains a revenue-generating venture for attackers. A modern approach is required to stay ahead of the adversary.

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Ransomware Requires a New Approach

The Evolution of Ransomware

Initially, ransomware was confined to a single host. A single user could lose their files, but ransomware was not able to move across an entire network. Companies and end users were advised to back up their data with the intent of being able to recover much, if not all, mission-critical information in the event they were attacked with ransomware.

Then the threat evolved. Around 2015, researchers began to see the emergence of "post-intrusion" attacks, where the criminals gain access to an environment and then stage a ransomware attack from within the network in order to cause as much damage as possible. Next, in 2019, the emergence of 'name and shame' began: criminals stealing data before they encrypt it and then threatening to leak it online if their ransom demands aren't met.

And now, the threat is evolving again. Some groups are abandoning the encryption component and focusing purely on name and shame. Threatening to leak stolen data is an excellent tactic to encourage victims to pay the ransom. From a threat actor's perspective, when they are in that post-encryption/pre-payment phase, they have expended effort—which can be viewed as cost from their point of view—and they have yet to gain anything in return. So, anything which can be further encouragement to make victims pay is considered good for their business from their point of view.

This shift in tactics may also be because the technique scales better; furthermore, recent cases where the disruption caused by the encryption in the attack (Colonial Pipeline being a recent example) has led to scrutiny by law enforcement of these cybercriminals. Attacks that simply steal data without encrypting it can be much harder to detect, harder to stop, and less costly for the threat actor.

The ransomware threat has been around for more than 30 years and continues to evolve to stay relevant and remain a revenue-generating venture for attackers. Because of this constant evolution and cat and mouse game, a modern approach is required.

Nevertheless, ransomware can be prevented and disrupted. Secureworks’ portfolio of Taegis cloud-native security products (XDR, NGAV, and VDR) and services (Taegis ManagedXDR and Incident Management Retainer) has helped thousands of organization all over the world to stay protected over the years.

Ransomware Attack Simulations


Pre-Ransomware Attack Simulation

Secureworks experts emulate ransomware threats to highlight vulnerabilities in customer environments

Pre-Ransomware Video

Ransomware Attack Simulation

Testing ability to detect a ransomware attack before it happens

Ransomware Attack Video

Stop Ransomware with Taegis

Ransomware has become one of the most prevalent and disruptive forms of cyberattack in the recent years. The FBI IC3 2020 Internet Crime Report states that the number of ransomware incidents increased by 21% from 2019 to 2020. The UK National Cyber Security Centre's 2020 Annual Review reports that the agency “handled more than three times as many ransomware incidents [in 2020] than last year.” From paralyzing government services to shutting down major fuel supply lines to disrupting a global meat production business and impeding patient care at hospitals – ransomware has grown into a multi-million-dollar global enterprise.

Protect your organization from ransomware with Secureworks Taegis™ Security Operations and Analytics Platform. Taegis brings together prevention (Taegis NGAV), extended detection and response (Taegis XDR or Taegis ManagedXDR), vulnerability management (Taegis VDR), and continuously curated, comprehensive threat intelligence to help you reduce the risk of a ransomware attack and stop ransomware prior to data exfiltration and file encryption.

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Taegis™ VDR

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Know the Adversary

Even though ransomware perpetrators are numerous and their profiles diverse, you can get an early warning about emerging ransomware campaigns by leveraging the original research by the Secureworks Counter Threat Unit™ (CTU) covering APTs, criminal groups, ransomware-as-a-service providers, and other threat actors. For example, in 2020 and 2021, CTU™ discovered and analyzed Darkside and Snatch ransomware operations’ use of the Tor client to create a backdoor with persistent access to compromised networks via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). With this information, available at no extra charge to Taegis customers, you can mitigate exposure to these threats by following CTU researchers’ recommendation to review and, possibly, restrict access to the Tor network using the provided indicators. Further, CTU research drives continuous enhancement of Taegis countermeasures, advancing its capacity to detect new threats.

Address Vulnerability Risk

Vulnerability exploitation is one of the most common ransomware attack vectors, as reported by FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). So, effective vulnerability management is critical to hardening your organization’s security posture against ransomware. Vulnerability management has long been a time-consuming and heavily manual task, but with Taegis VDR, you can automate asset discovery and vulnerability detection and take advantage of the highly accurate and relevant vulnerability prioritization. Taegis VDR determines vulnerability risk based on the unique context of your environment, threat intelligence data, and 45 other internal and external factors, so you can prioritize and remediate effectively.

Detect Ransomware Attacks Early On

Ransomware can evade traditional antimalware solutions by living only in memory. Cobalt Strike, a tool originally built for adversary simulations and red team testing, but often used by ATPs and other threat actors, is an example. Taegis Extended Detection and Response (XDR), can detect Cobalt Strike, giving you an advantage during the early stages of an attack.

If perpetrators manage to get in, they often "live off the land," leveraging legitimate network administration and other tools to conduct reconnaissance and move laterally across the network. In most cases, Taegis will detect such attacks automatically. But if malicious actors are particularly sophisticated, targeted threats they create may avoid prevention and detection layers of defense. To account for that, leading industry-analysis firm Gartner® refers in their "Market Guide for Managed Detection and Response Services" to "human-performed threat hunting" as a way to "find attacks […] that bypassed existing prevention and detection capabilities." Accordingly, Taegis ManagedXDR Elite includes Secureworks' expert-led continuous managed threat-hunting services customized to your environment and security goals. Your dedicated threat hunter continuously scours your endpoints, networks, and cloud assets to uncover potentially malicious elements and stealthy activity early on, thwarting the most damaging stages of a ransomware attack: extracting data, destroying backups, and distributing and detonating ransomware.

Leverage Secureworks Taegis to get an early warning about emerging threats, identify and eliminate vulnerabilities, and stop ransomware before it inflicts material damage on your organization.

On-Demand Webinar

Making MITRE Matter: Ransomware Defense Revealed

Watch and learn from a Secureworks Counter Threat Unit™ researcher as we bring MITRE ATT&CK to life through ransomware examples and practical insights into the mind of the adversary. You'll see how an open Extended Detection and Response (XDR) platform handles real-world adversarial tools and attack techniques with rapid threat detections and countermeasures.

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