Ransomware is one of the biggest and most insidious threats to companies across the world. For example, an attack on US-based firm Kaseya in July compromised between 800 and 1500 businesses worldwide, per a Reuters report. One of the most common methods attackers use to get ransomware on computers is social engineering, such as phishing. Conducting a phishing assessment targeting ransomware is one of the best ways to safeguard against these threats.
Fight Ransomware with Phishing Risk Assessments
Given the threat posed by phishing attacks and ransomware more broadly, companies’ security programs should account for and prevent these attacks through targeted assessments. There are three primary ways in which a phishing risk assessment can help prevent an organization from falling victim to ransomware threats:
- Assessments conducted on existing or previous attacks generate preventive insights
- Penetration testing focused on ransomware attacks can identify and patch weaknesses
- Generalized malware assessments can reduce both the number and severity of attacks
Comprehensive phishing assessments and prevention adopt past and future perspectives to refine cybersecurity efforts. As an expert managed security services provider (MSSP), RSI Security is well equipped to help you prevent ransomware threats.
Malware Risk Assessments and Root Cause Analysis
The first and most essential kind of malware, ransomware, or phishing assessment a company can run should be focused on actual previous or attempted attacks on the company.
To best protect your stakeholders from the specific kinds of attacks most likely to target you in the future, it’s critical to learn from the past. In particular, once a phishing or other ransomware attack has been neutralized, your company should begin a “root cause analysis” (RCA). These assessments typically dive into inventory and configuration logs immediately before, during, and after an attack on your systems. In the case of a phishing assessment, they may look farther into the past to identify loopholes in your firewall or web filtering to patch them immediately.
The ultimate goal of RCA and all past-focused phishing assessments is generating threat intelligence, which is used to prevent future instances of the same or similar threats. RCA is often folded into broader threat hunting programs, such as managed detection and response (MDR), which may also include incident response and compliance advisory capabilities.
Penetration Testing and Phishing Risk Assessment
The other primary phishing assessment a company can run to help prevent ransomware threats is future-focused: targeted penetration testing (or “pen-testing”).
The basic ideology behind pen-testing is similar to analyzing past attacks. Defense informs offense, so any threat intelligence you can generate will help stave off future attacks. A company can focus one of two primary pen-test variants on phishing or ransomware specifically:
- External – Simulating attacks that originate outside the company, with little to no prior knowledge of its security practices. This can accurately predict the stages of a blanket phishing scheme, such as one intended to attack many organizations simultaneously.
- Internal – Simulating attacks that originate from inside the company, with some special knowledge of security settings or access privileges. This can accurately predict the stages of a targeted “spear phishing” scheme launched by an aggrieved ex-employee.
Companies may also opt for a hybrid pen-test that begins externally and continues internally, such as a multi-layered phishing scheme involving both outsider and insider threat actors.
Other Ransomware Readiness Assessment Types
Beyond past- and future-focused ransomware phishing assessments, companies may also prepare for these kinds of attacks with broader readiness assessments. These include various threat and vulnerability management protocols, such as real-time threat updates across assets or one-time analyses (e.g., Internet of Things (IoT) scans or risk rating reports). Ultimately, companies need to establish tools for visibility monitoring across all internal and external assets.
With respect to phishing and ransomware, externally operated assets are especially critical.
Third-Party Risk Assessment
To revisit the example from the beginning of this article, an attack on one company (i.e., Kaseya) has the potential to impact all companies within its extended network of strategic partners. This includes vendors, suppliers, and business-to-business (B2B) clients.
Since most companies cannot usually exert direct control over their strategic partners’ security systems, it is essential to regularly assess phishing ransomware—and all other risks—as part of a third party risk management (TPRM) program. All the assessments above can be focused on third parties.
Organizations may also augment employees’ security training with phishing simulations. This service sends fake phishing emails to help employees differentiate between threats and legitimate communications.
Professional Ransomware, Malware Assessments, and Security
Companies’ security systems, no matter how robust, are always at the mercy of their users’ behaviors. As phishing and all social engineering scams grow increasingly complex, companies need to ensure that all personnel are well prepared to avoid downloading or otherwise allowing any ransomware from compromising systems.
Targeted phishing assessments provide optimal security ROI: they can turn past attacks into usable threat intelligence, simulate attacks to turn offense into defense, and inform broader risk management programs to reduce future attacks’ impact. As an expert MSSP, RSI Security can provide risk assessment and employee training.
To get started with your own, custom-tailored program, contact RSI Security today!