Is Your Organization Still Using the Old Ways to Prevent Ransomware?

Beyond Identity Blog | Thursday, September 2, 2021

Imagine this. It’s 8:30 AM, your teams are just arriving at the office and logging in for the day. Just as your coworker goes to check their morning emails, they realize they’ve been completely locked out. Puzzled, they try again. Still no luck. A popup appears, announcing the encryption of your most mission-critical files, and demanding a ransom in exchange for your data. One quick call to IT, later and suddenly your entire organization is in a frantic state. You’ve been breached, and your systems have been infected with ransomware. The entire organization, and especially the executive team, is panicked. What does this mean? What happens now? 

Once a ransomware attack is underway, there is not much you can do to stop it, and you are now at the mercy of the hacker. Ransomware can be devastating to any organization—the average cost of a ransomware attack is $1.85 million for organizations that pay and over $700,000 for organizations that don’t. Better than recovery, however, is preventing a ransomware attack from happening in the first place. 

Old Ways to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks were previously much less of an issue than they are today—in fact, there has been a 62% increase in ransomware attacks since 2019. Due to the sudden increase, many organizations have been ill prepared for the influx, and have been using old methods to manage modern attacks. Some older, less effective methods of prevention include...

Employee Training

While it’s never a bad thing to keep your workforce educated on the value of staying vigilant, time and time again studies show that security training is effectively useless in preventing cyberattacks. Your time, efforts, and financial investments are better spent elsewhere.  

Anti-Phishing Software

  • Anti-phishing software is able to identify and contain known threats in some cases, but not all or even many
  • Phishing attacks can target you in many places, like on social media or via SMS and other places that anti-phishing software cannot provide security
  • Credentials can also be obtained through leaks and dark web purchases, which are much more challenging to prevent

Anti-phishing software can still be an effective tool for the security of your organization, as it will block some malware attempts and quarantine other malicious activity, it cannot be a standalone solution for ransomware. Anti-phishing tools are frequently bypassed, and hackers are learning new ways to do so all the time.

Changing Passwords

  • Changing passwords frequently actually creates more risks, not fewer. When employees are required to change passwords frequently, they are more likely to reuse old passwords, which may have already been leaked, rather than create a brand new password each time.  
  • If the hacker is able to gain access to just one account, through the use of lateral movement, they can easily move from one account to the next anyway by resetting passwords as they go
  • Passwords are fundamentally insecure, so even if you change them, you are only putting your organization at risk for another attack later down the line.

While these old methods may have offered your organization some level of security, they are no longer up to task in the ever-widening attack landscape. Looking ahead to new methods of prevention is necessary in order to prevent ransomware attacks on your organization. 

New Ways of Stopping Ransomware Attacks

With so much of the old guard becoming incapable of the task of protecting your org from new ransomware threats, what can you do? Traditional MFA methods, such as SMS codes, pop-up notifications, or email verification, lack the ability to truly secure your systems and applications, leaving you susceptible to the breaches that ransomware relies on as an entry point. In fact, 80% of data breaches start with a password-based attack, costing organizations millions of dollars annually. 

The answer is strong passwordless authentication.

Passwordless MFA is able to stop ransomware and other credential-based attacks, because without passwords, there are no credentials for adversaries to hack, breach, or steal. 

Passwordless authentication also prevents lateral movement between applications and systems from hackers. By completely eliminating passwords, hackers are unable to move throughout your mission-critical applications by way of password resets nor does access to one application grant you access to any other lateral movement attempts in their tracks. By verifying identity during and continuously after every login to every application, it is not possible for an intruder to get in through a weak spot and then move around to infect the entire system.

Going passwordless may seem like a daunting task, but Beyond Identity makes it easy for your organization to make the move. With secure authentication and no added friction for users, passwordless MFA by Beyond Identity makes it impossible for malicious threat actors to steal employee credentials. Beyond Identity verifies users and identities using the same cryptography tools that TLS uses to secure trillions of dollars of transactions daily. With Beyond Identity, you can keep your most valuable data, systems, and applications safe.

Eliminating passwords is the most effective way to prevent ransomware attacks at the source. Learn more about how Beyond Identity can help your organization