While ransomware has long been one of the main cyber threats to businesses, the past number of months have seen organizations more exposed than ever. Symantec’s latest research paper on ransomware has found that businesses were the main victims of the WannaCry and Petya outbreaks, with corporate networks the ideal breeding ground for this new generation of self-propagating threats.

Our research found that overall ransomware infection numbers have continued to trend upwards. During the first six months of 2017, Symantec blocked just over 319,000 ransomware infections. If this infection rate continued for the full year, 2017 would be a significant increase over 2016, when a total of 470,000 infections were blocked. Contributing to this increase was a spike in blocked infections during May and June 2017, the months when the WannaCry and Petya outbreaks occurred.

Figure 1. Ransomware infections by month, January 2016 to June 2017

WannaCry and Petya: New threats emerge

 

This year saw the arrival of a new generation of self-propagating ransomware. WannaCry, which was the first to appear, caused global panic due to its ability to spread itself across the networks of infected organizations and then spread to other organizations across the internet. Petya mimicked some of the techniques employed by WannaCry to spread itself across networks.

What enabled WannaCry to spread so quickly was that its developers had incorporated the leaked “EternalBlue” exploit into its code. An exploit of a vulnerability in the Windows implementation of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol (CVE-2017-0144), it had been patched two months earlier, but there were still enough unpatched computers online for WannaCry to spread quickly. EternalBlue allowed WannaCry to act like a worm, spreading itself to other unpatched computers on the local network and across the internet by scanning random IP addresses in an attempt to find other vulnerable computers.

Six weeks later, a new variant of Petya adopted similar tactics, using EternalBlue as a propagation mechanism, but also incorporating other SMB network spreading techniques, which meant it could spread within organizations to computers that had been patched against EternalBlue. Another difference from WannaCry was that Petya was far more targeted, configured to mainly affect organizations in Ukraine, although other organizations in other countries were also affected.

 
Organizations in the crosshairs

 

The impact of WannaCry and Petya makes it quite likely that more attackers will attempt to replicate the tactics used by deploying ransomware as a worm. The propagation mechanisms employed by both ransomware families enabled the threats to spread quickly across an entire computer network. Many consumer computers are not connected to a network, unlike those found in organizations.

While WannaCry and Petya also did have the ability to spread across the internet to other vulnerable computers, this means of transmission again largely affected other organizations. Most home internet routers would have blocked infection attempts involving the EternalBlue exploit.

WannaCry and Petya’s disproportionate impact on organizations can be seen in infection statistics. During 2015 and 2016, businesses accounted for between 29 and 30 percent of ransomware infections. That figure shot up to 42 percent in the first half of 2017, with a major spike in business infections during May and June, the months WannaCry and Petya spread


Figure 2. Consumer vs enterprise ransomware infections by month

Organizations need to prepare themselves for the threat posed by self-propagating ransomware. The Petya outbreak demonstrated that even without EternalBlue, attackers can create worm-like ransomware that is capable of spreading across a network. While it does require more skill and the use of additional tools, such as credential stealers, the potential rewards are much greater.

 
Ransom demands stabilize

 

During the first six months of 2017, the average ransom demand seen in new ransomware families was US$544. This follows on from a period of rapid inflation in ransom demands. During 2016, the average ransom demand seen in new ransomware families increased dramatically, rising more than threefold from $294 to $1,077

Figure 3. Average ransom amount in U.S. dollars, by year

This could suggest that after a period of trial-and-error in 2016, many attackers have settled on a ransom demand of around $500 as the “sweet spot” for ransom demands. While this may not sound like a major loss for an organization, most ransom demands are for a single infected computer. If an organization finds itself with tens or hundreds of infected computers, the price demanded by attackers will quickly add up.

 
Now is the time to bolster defenses

 

 

WannaCry and Petya proved that ransomware is not a predictable threat and organizations who are complacent may be caught out. Building a multi-layered defense ensures that any point of failure is mitigated by other defensive practices.

This should include not only regularly patching vulnerabilities and ensuring critical systems are backed up, but also employing multiple, overlapping, and mutually supportive defensive systems to guard against single-point failures in any specific technology or protection method.

 
Tips for businesses and consumers

 

  • New ransomware variants appear on a regular basis. Always keep your security software up to date to protect yourself against them.
  • Keep your operating system and other software updated. Software updates will frequently include patches for newly discovered security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by ransomware attackers, such as EternalBlue.
  • Email is one of the main infection methods. Delete any suspicious-looking email you receive, especially if they contain links and/or attachments.
  • Be extremely wary of any Microsoft Office email attachment that advises you to enable macros to view its content. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is a genuine email from a trusted source, do not enable macros and instead immediately delete the email.
  • Backing up important data is the single most effective way of combating ransomware infection. Attackers have leverage over their victims by encrypting valuable files and leaving them inaccessible. If the victim has backup copies, they can restore their files once the infection has been cleaned up.

 
Protection

Adopting a multi-layered approach to security minimizes the chance of infection. Symantec has a comprehensive strategy that protects against ransomware in three stages.

  1. Prevent:Email security, Intrusion Prevention, Download Insight, Browser Protection, Proactive Exploit Protection (PEP).
  2. Contain: Advanced signature-based antivirus engine with machine learning heuristic technologies, including SONAR and Sapient.
  3. Respond: Dedicated Incident Response team to help organizations respond and recover from a ransomware attack.

 

Find out more

 

For an in-depth look at the threat posed by ransomware and to learn more about Symantec’s ransomware protection strategy please see our whitepaper: Ransomware 2017: An ISTR special report


RECOMMENDED ARTICLE FOR TECHWORLD


 
Smart Unveils Offers for the Groundbreaking Samsung Galaxy S10 Line
Techworld Date Posted: 28 February 2019 2:25 PM | 79 Views
Following the official launch of the Samsung Galaxy S10 line in San Francisco, Smart Communications, Inc., the wireless arm of leading telco and digital services provider PLDT Inc., has revealed its offers for the.... See More
 
Smart Unveils Offers for the Groundbreaking Samsung Galaxy S10 Line
Techworld Date Posted: 2:25 PM | 79 Views
Following the official launch of the Samsung Galaxy S10 line in San Francisco, Smart Communications, Inc., the wireless arm of leading telco and digital services provider PLDT Inc., has revealed its offers for the...See More

 
Aruba Named as ‘Leader’ in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and Tops All Six Use-Cases in Critical Capabilities Report
Techworld Date Posted: 21 November 2017 8:51 AM | 600 Views
For the first time ever, Aruba is positioned furthest overall in the ‘Leaders’ category in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access . See More
 
Aruba Named as ‘Leader’ in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and Tops All Six Use-Cases in Critical Capabilities Report
Techworld Date Posted: 8:51 AM | 600 Views
For the first time ever, Aruba is positioned furthest overall in the ‘Leaders’ category in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access See More

 
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Are Changing the Way We Do Business
Techworld Date Posted: 28 November 2017 10:29 AM | 301 Views
Today, every organisation needs to reimagine its business model. Customers expect business to meet them anywhere, any time, on any device. To meet this speed of response, businesses need to be ahead of the.... See More
 
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Are Changing the Way We Do Business
Techworld Date Posted: 10:29 AM | 301 Views
Today, every organisation needs to reimagine its business model. Customers expect business to meet them anywhere, any time, on any device. To meet this speed of response, businesses need to be ahead of the...See More

 
The Lowdown on the Philippine ID System What Filipinos Need to Know
Techworld Date Posted: 21 September 2018 9:19 AM | 157 Views
The majority of modern nations implement a national ID system to achieve greater efficiency in the provision of services. Many of these nations, however, continue to struggle with the competing interest of personal privacy..... See More
 
The Lowdown on the Philippine ID System What Filipinos Need to Know
Techworld Date Posted: 9:19 AM | 157 Views
The majority of modern nations implement a national ID system to achieve greater efficiency in the provision of services. Many of these nations, however, continue to struggle with the competing interest of personal privacy....See More

 
Innovation, Changing the Way HR Works
Techworld Date Posted: 19 October 2017 2:06 PM | 247 Views
The recent ‘State of HR in the Philippines' report published by Sprout Solutions ranked the major pain points Filipino HR (human resource) practitioners face. Garnering the most votes from a thousand participants are recruitment.... See More
 
Innovation, Changing the Way HR Works
Techworld Date Posted: 2:06 PM | 247 Views
The recent ‘State of HR in the Philippines' report published by Sprout Solutions ranked the major pain points Filipino HR (human resource) practitioners face. Garnering the most votes from a thousand participants are recruitment...See More

 
HyperX Joins ESGS 2017 with Team Execration
Techworld Date Posted: 25 October 2017 10:38 AM | 414 Views
HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston Technology, today announced their presence at ESGS 2017 and all the fun activities to engage with the vast Filipino Gaming Community at SMX Convention Center from October 27th.... See More
 
HyperX Joins ESGS 2017 with Team Execration
Techworld Date Posted: 10:38 AM | 414 Views
HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston Technology, today announced their presence at ESGS 2017 and all the fun activities to engage with the vast Filipino Gaming Community at SMX Convention Center from October 27th...See More

 
Limited Edition Gold Lenovo Legion Y520 Gaming Laptop Now Available in the Philippines
Techworld Date Posted: 5 April 2018 4:53 PM | 654 Views
Lenovo recently announced that the limited edition gold Lenovo Legion Y520 gaming laptop is now available in the Philippines. With its new hardware, it is sure to elevate the gaming experience. It comes with.... See More
 
Limited Edition Gold Lenovo Legion Y520 Gaming Laptop Now Available in the Philippines
Techworld Date Posted: 4:53 PM | 654 Views
Lenovo recently announced that the limited edition gold Lenovo Legion Y520 gaming laptop is now available in the Philippines. With its new hardware, it is sure to elevate the gaming experience. It comes with...See More

 
Transcend® Helps the Davao City Central 911 Improve Safety and Efficiency with its Dashcams and Body Cams
Techworld Date Posted: 31 January 2017 3:34 AM | 402 Views
Transcend® Information, Inc. (Transcend®), a leading manufacturer of storage and multimedia products. See More
 
Transcend® Helps the Davao City Central 911 Improve Safety and Efficiency with its Dashcams and Body Cams
Techworld Date Posted: 3:34 AM | 402 Views
Transcend® Information, Inc. (Transcend®), a leading manufacturer of storage and multimedia productsSee More

PCBG Contributing Writer
Buckle Up for This Year’s E-Sports and Gaming Summit
Techworld • By: PCBG Contributing Writer | Date Posted: 26 October 2017 2:36 PM | 332 Views
The E-Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) 2017 is bound to grace the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on October 27-29 (Friday-Sunday) for a no-holds barred gaming extravaganza and introduction of new local and.... See More
PCBG Contributing Writer
Buckle Up for This Year’s E-Sports and Gaming Summit
Techworld • By: PCBG Contributing Writer | Date Posted: 2:36 PM | 332 Views
The E-Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) 2017 is bound to grace the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on October 27-29 (Friday-Sunday) for a no-holds barred gaming extravaganza and introduction of new local and...See More

 
Symantec a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways for the 11th Consecutive Time
Techworld Date Posted: 28 December 2018 4:17 PM | 106 Views
Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC), the world’s leading cyber security company, today announced that it has been named by Gartner, Inc. as a Leader in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways. . See More
 
Symantec a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways for the 11th Consecutive Time
Techworld Date Posted: 4:17 PM | 106 Views
Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC), the world’s leading cyber security company, today announced that it has been named by Gartner, Inc. as a Leader in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Secure Web Gateways. See More


Power by

Download Free AZ | Free Wordpress Themes