There’s an increasing concern from our partners about the lack of readily available information available on this emerging cybersecurity risk, as well as the desire for updated security in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.

Ransomware is receiving unprecedented attention in the media, IT, Cybersecurity, and even the Government due to recent infrastructure and agricultural attacks. Here’s some core information about this emergent threat.

Ransomware Basics: What you need to know.

Ransomware is an increasingly common type of malware. In recent years it has affected IT infrastructure across personal, governmental and private enterprise computer systems. Ransomware is a targeted malware attack that uses your systems against you to lock and encrypt valuable data behind malicious software that locks you out of your IT hardware and infrastructure. Hackers deploy ransomware to hold your files, data, and assets hostage behind a random and nearly impervious paywall.

The trend started with personal ransomware like Cryptlocker, Petya, and BadRabbit in the early 2010s and has given way to dozens of variations of ransomware deployed across a wide range of targets. Ransomware attacks skyrocketed nearly 171% in 2020, and millions of dollars are paid monthly to unscrupulous actors and hacker groups worldwide. Ransomware can come from anywhere and does not typically require physical access to infect and corrupt your systems and software.

An ounce of prevention can prevent the need for a billion-dollar cure when it comes to cybersecurity. In the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, the hackers targeted crucial business administration systems, forcing Colonial to stop operations. This two-pronged attack forced Colonial between shutting down operations or losing millions of dollars in potential revenues. Colonial paid the ransom, and the FBI is still scrambling to take back the cryptocurrency given to the hackers to avoid further calamity. Tomahawk is here to help you prevent this type of cybersecurity scenario with up-to-date practices and security systems.

Ransomware Deployment: How it begins

Probing: Ransomware often starts the same as any hack, with a classic phishing attempt that looks like a harmless email. One misclick, answering the wrong questions, or even opening the wrong email can set off a long-term probing attack against your systems.

Propagation: Once a malicious actor has access to your email server, then the propagation phase begins. Hackers will identify weak points in your network, end-users with access to exploitable systems, and open network points to install and deploy the malicious parts of a ransomware attack. Once established, this level of a security breach is already a massive danger to your enterprise. It can be challenging to know how much information has been copied, cloned, or resold on the dark web.

Execution: After the initial phases of scouting and laying initial codework in your unsecured systems, hackers move onto the truly destructive parts of a ransomware attack. That’s when the malicious code uses your system’s processing power to encrypt it and lock it behind a paywall in a process typically called “initiating the kill chain.” Once the kill chain initiates, your data effectively belongs to someone else. A completed ransomware attack will leave your IT team with two choices, pay up or recover and reinstall the data from a backup or additional location.

Ransomware Targets: Who is at risk?

The unfortunate reality of ransomware attacks is that anyone with the potential pay-up is a valid target. Hackers have moved between the public and private sector with ransomware for over a decade, with malicious actors have recently stepped up into major industries and prominent targets. This trend appears to be increasing as successful ransomware attacks continue unabated in smaller sectors of industry. In the past twelve months, industry giants in the meatpacking and petroleum sectors, as well as several military contractors, have seen ransomware breaches, prompting the U.S. Government to get more involved at the federal level. If your systems have accessible weak points and your talent doesn’t have the best protocols available, you could risk a ransomware attack.

Ransomware Prevention: Using partnerships to stay ahead.

We’re working around the clock to keep our partners protected in the event of a security breach or ransomware infiltration. Unfortunately, there are no specific security protocols or one-shot solutions that lockdown all instances of ransomware. Even worse, the Federal response is nowhere near a national ransomware solution.

Fortunately, our expertise to develop, enhance and improve our partner’s security has helped our partners fortify their enterprises. We’ve worked with them to build out complete security suites and implement the best security protocols available. Creating added security and peace of mind for our partners is one of our primary goals.

From zero-trust access protocols to micro-segregation of data, a partnership with Tomahawk ensures cybersecurity is up to the minute and that a copy of your essential data is stored safely off-site in the event of ransomware or other cybersecurity attacks. Our partners are some of the biggest names in cybersecurity and proud to offer the latest enterprise-level cybersecurity news, design, and implementation to our partners at all levels of an enterprise.

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