Ransomware has come of age over the last decade. What kicked off as a threat for home computers has now become a powerhouse that interferes with fuel supply chains, paralyzes worldwide healthcare systems, and damages public transport infrastructure. The evolution of ransomware is one of the most dangerous trends in cybersecurity. Ransomware is now a key threat for businesses and cybersecurity experts believe this threat actor will continue to climb to new heights in the coming years. Ransomware attacks don’t need to be highly advanced to cause damage, a simple ransomware attack can produce lucrative ransom payments for cybercriminals. This year we witnessed some of the most high-profile ransomware attacks in history, these attacks include JBS, Kronos, Kaseya, and the colonial pipeline. These attacks come from various groups including Revil, BlackMatter and DarkSide to name a few.
What to expect in 2022 and beyond?
Small Business Targets
Small businesses are being warned to prepare for a potential increase in ransomware attacks over the next year. Cybercriminals will increase in these attacks to attract less attention from law enforcement and the federal government. In the last few years, ransomware activity has drawn increased attention and effort towards targeting ransomware groups. The US treasury treats ransomware with the same severity as terrorism. Law enforcement has had a fair share of wins as well, even capturing several members of the Revil group last month.
Targeting Third-Party Software
Cybercriminals no longer need to directly attack organizations or their systems. Moving forward hackers are likely to target supply chain software, like remote monitoring and management software, or by compromising widespread TCP/IP stack vulnerabilities. Some of these unnoticed vulnerabilities, especially in third-party software, have remained unpatched for years and malicious actors will continue to exploit them to damage and control devices.
Use Internet of Things (IoT) as Entry
IoT devices are readily available and increasingly more common. If the trend continues, there will be over 25 billion IoT devices in circulation before the end of this year. That is a lot of devices for hackers to target as a potential ingress point to carry out their illegal activities. IoT misconfigurations like unwanted services or default settings and passwords leave many IoT devices vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Organizations that want to protect themselves against these attacks must ensure they have complete visibility and control over their devices and understand the risks that come with them. After all, you cannot protect something if you cannot monitor it. Ensure prerequisite actions are taken, such as disabling unnecessary services and updating default settings, including old passwords, to protect against common vulnerabilities. Organizations can also implement network segmentation, which is an effective way to ensure that malicious actors cannot compromise one IoT device and spread damage across the entire organization.
The future of ransomware is already here. The number of attacks on IoT devices, small companies, and third-party software will continue to surge, especially due to the success cybercriminals had this year alone. Organizations should not sit back and watch but need to be proactive by bringing devices in line with the latest security protocols, changing default settings and passwords, and disabling services that are not required.
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