Understanding Ransomware and What You're Up Against

Ransomware incidents have exploded in recent years—and it’s no surprise why. Digital transformation initiatives—from expanded cloud deployments and utilization to increased remote access—have massively increased the attack surface. Ransomware and cryptominers are the top malware types dropped in cloud environments.

Ransomware operators will typically scan for unsecured, open ports to start their attack. Internet-exposed Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) endpoints continue to be cited in threat reports as the #1 entry point for ransomware, giving attackers their initial foothold in roughly 50% - 80% of successful ransomware attacks. In fact, 76% of cloud accounts for sale on the dark web are for RDP access.

Meanwhile, other remote access technologies, like VPN, are being stretched for use cases far beyond what is secure, and are often poorly implemented. This all makes it easy for attackers to find gaps, gain broad access, and deliver malicious payloads, including ransomware. Social engineering attacks, such as phishing emails with infected attachments or malicious links, also continue to be common methods of landing and expanding a ransomware attack.

Most Ransomware Attacks Require Privilege

No matter how it is delivered, almost all ransomware requires privileges just to execute (install files or drivers, access registry keys, etc.) and encrypt data as well as to move laterally and spread. Ransomware attacks are increasingly incorporating fileless malware techniques to stay hidden while they advance through an organization’s systems and network.

Ready-to-go ransomware as a service kits are widely available on the dark web. This makes it easier than ever for an unsophisticated threat actor to launch a highly sophisticated, multi-step attack.

BeyondTrust Privileged Access Management breaks the ransomware attack chain at multiple points by exerting control over privileges, applications, and remote access pathways, and enforcing zero trust security principles.

BeyondTrust PAM vs. DarkSide Ransomware

See how BeyondTrust solutions dismantle a DarkSide ransomware attack.

Boost Ransomware Immunity with BeyondTrust

Defend against client and server-side threats

BeyondTrust PAM solutions defend against the most common ransomware and malware attack vectors, including unsecure remote access pathways and privileged access. Our products also protect against sophisticated edge cases that leverage social engineering, macros, and other vulnerabilities.

"Ransomware is not magic—it can only run with the privileges of the user or the application that launches it. Therein lies its weakness, and our chance to leverage tools to contain it before it starts."

G. Mark Hardy, CISSP, CISA President, National Security Corporation.

Privileged Remote Access

Mitigate RDP, VNC, SSH, and VPN risks

Traditional remote access methods such as RDP, VPNs, and legacy remote desktop tools lack the access management controls critical to ensuring least privilege. Moreover, RDP and VPN are commonly exploited due to vulnerabilities or misconfigurations. Extending remote access to your vendors makes matters even worse.

BeyondTrust Privileged Remote Access locks down remote access, applying least privilege and auditing controls to all remote access from employees, vendors, and service desks.

  • Brokers all connections through a single access pathway, limiting internet-exposed ports, such as from RDP—the most common ransomware entry point
  • Implements fine-grained, role-based access to specific systems with defined session parameters, eliminating inappropriate privileged access.
  • Secures and audits vendor and internal remote privileged access without a VPN.
  • Manages the credentials used to initiate remote access sessions—never exposing the credential to the end user.
  • Provides comprehensive visibility across every remote session—with the ability to pinpoint and suspend or terminate suspicious sessions in real-time.

Stop Lateral Movement and Prevent Ransomware Spread

Protect desktops, servers, IoT, and other devices

BeyondTrust Endpoint Privilege Management for Windows & Mac / Unix & Linux is recognized by analysts as the industry’s leading solution for privilege elevation and delegation and application control. The solution manages and secures privileges across all types of endpoints—desktops, servers, IoT, OT, etc. Some benefits include:

  • Prevents ransomware, malware, phishing, and other attacks by removing the admin rights needed by ransomware. Additionally, enforces least privilege for both IT and non-IT users.
  • Enables just-in-time access, minimizing standing privileges and the window of time any privileges can be used or misused. Privileges are never given to the user. Instead, they are constrained to the security context of the executable.
  • Applies privilege enforcement rules to web browsers, office applications, and document readers. This blocks attacker entry points and the unwanted execution of macros and embedded code.

Secure and Control Applications

Bring Shadow IT under control

While ransomware is commonly delivered as independent malware, some strains leverage legitimate applications and macros, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe, and PowerShell. BeyondTrust Endpoint Privilege Management stops ransomware and fileless (living of the land) attacks at the source by protecting rogue execution of these applications.

  • Exerts advanced application control beyond allow and block lists to ensure only authorized applications can start or call other applications.
  • Blocks malicious code. Email attachments, phishing links, compromised websites, and untrusted DLL loads are prevented from delivering ransomware payloads.
  • Defends against fileless malware with Trusted Application Protection, intelligently applying context to restrict high-risk applications (Wscript, CSript, PowerShell, etc.) commonly used in attack chains.

Secure Privileged Credentials

Eliminate password cracking, reuse, pass-the-hash, and other attacks

Compromised credentials play a role in almost every IT security incident—ransomware is no exception. That’s why it’s critical to secure privileged credentials with an enterprise privileged password management solution.

BeyondTrust Password Safe

  • Discovers, onboards, manages, and audits privileged accounts and credentials (passwords, secrets, etc.) for humans and machines.
  • Eliminates embedded and default credentials in scripts and applications used for automation and associated with machine identities.
  • Enforces strong, consistent password policy to protect your organization from password re-use attacks and other password exploits.
  • Provides comprehensive session management, monitoring, and auditing by recording interactive sessions for future playback, training, and identification of inappropriate activity.
  • Enables just-in-time access to privileged accounts to eliminate the need for standing privileges and always-on privileged accounts.
  • Protects accounts account hijacking, unwanted lateral movement, and privilege escalation

Cross-Cloud Threat Protection

Clearly understand cloud risks and recourse

The more complex the environment, the easier it can be for ransomware and other attacks to succeed and lay hidden. Most companies using multiple cloud environments (AWS, Azure, etc.), yet do not have centralized management and visibility across platforms, resulting in dangerous gaps. Cloud vulnerabilities have soared 540% over the past six years, making proactive mitigation that spans cross-cloud more important than ever.

BeyondTrust provides cloud-native security, built to address the needs of multicloud environments in a centralized manner.

BeyondTrust Cloud Privilege Broker:

  • Provides immediate visibility over permissions and entitlements across multicloud infrastructure.
  • Mitigates privilege creep by continually illuminating and right-sizing excessive permissions.
  • Assesses the risk associated with over-provisioned identities and entitlements, with a single risk score.
  • Tracks mitigation efforts with a view of risk-over-time.

Let's Talk About Protecting Your Enterprise from Ransomware and Malware

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