The 5 Most Vulnerable Ransomware Entry Points to Your Organization

July 18, 2018 · Mary Chavez · · Comments

Employee cyber security awareness has no doubt risen in recent years due to the endless barrage of highly-publicized cyber attacks waged on businesses and individuals, including WannaCry, Petya and Bad Rabbit. While ransomware, malware and other methods have driven companies to take more proactive measures, you may still have multiple entry points that are vulnerable – particularly to ransomware attacks.

A good way to minimize the risk of a Ransomware attack is to maintain basic security hygiene. It is crucial to have clear visibility into all entry points and to educate employees on what to be on the lookout for. Five of the most likely ransomware entry points are detailed below:

Phishing Emails:

One reason email remains an effective ransomware method is that adversaries have become increasingly skilled at social engineering. Some of the more obvious characteristics of a phishing email such as misspelled words, poor punctuation and capitalization or questionable sender email addresses have been cleaned up – making it more difficult for employees to distinguish between legitimate and nefarious emails.

Ransomware can be delivered as an email attachment via direct executables, Microsoft Office files containing macros, and .zip files that contain executable files. It is crucial for your organization to implement a policy in which these files cannot be sent by email. Additionally, you can reduce the chances of attack by increasing filters and stemming the flow of emails with spam or malicious intent.

Web browsers:

Newer methods of Ransomware infection have exploited vulnerable web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer as entry points to gain access to organizations’ networks.

Employees should always be suspicious of any messages purporting to come from your browser or desktop provider regarding infections. Recently, cyber professionals have seen an increase in users receiving pop-up alert windows suggesting their computer has a major security issue and may have been hijacked. The window might even include a phone number to call or web link to access that could eventually lead to a ransomware demand if they gain control of your computer or data.

Browser extensions offer another attractive target for adding malware, redirect requests or installing malicious apps that can leave your organization vulnerable. Preventative malware scans and verified information from browser providers can help minimize the risk as long as employees know what to look for.

Social media platforms:

Crypto ransomware is a malware variant that encrypts files can be spread through web-based instant messaging applications on social media, according to UC Berkeley. To protect your employees and ultimately your business, implement a comprehensive security software that checks links on social media before employees click them, as some links can take employees to unsafe sites or download executable files to their desktops.

Unused systems:

Forgotten machines represent often overlooked security gaps on network endpoints at many organizations. Unused systems are often left unprotected and may not be fully visible to network administrators – but they are to attackers. These systems can still fall victim to malware if not disposed of properly or monitored regularly.

Outdated infrastructure:

Failure to update computer operating systems, browsers, and other high-risk applications will leave your organization far more vulnerable to endpoint threats. It is crucial to continuously update, patch and replace legacy hardware and software in order to provide comprehensive coverage.

Ransomware will only continue to become more sophisticated, so now is the time for your organization to protect your networks and infrastructure from an attack. Securing your vulnerable endpoints is just one way to ensure that your business is safe from outside attacks.

Mary Chavez - Director of Marketing and Partner Alliances

Director of Marketing and Partner Alliances