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Sponsored: Penetration Testing: An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

March 23, 2021

With ransomware and malware attacks on the rise across the globe, leaders need to be positioned for incident response before a breach occurs. Most businesses are not prepared for the earth-splitting impact a ransomware attack will present to their organization. Many organizations are deploying the “HOPE” strategy against ransomware. They hope every day that they aren’t targeted, because they know a ransomware attack will present a monumental financial and organizational challenge. Commercial businesses have paid hundreds of millions of dollars to black hat hackers for the rights to the decryption key to restore their network. Ransomware can shut down computers and lock out users until they pay hackers a ransom. Malware can also shut down physical equipment, temporarily or permanently crippling manufacturing companies.

The costliest enterprise-level ransomware attacks today use traditional network intrusion methods. Attackers spend weeks inside a network before finally launching the ransomware where it will have the most significant impact. Ransomware attacks work because organizations are paralyzed without access to their data. Even a brief interruption can bring a business to its knees immediately.

Until recently, ransomware focused solely on locking users away from their data. This is achieved either through encryption, or by modifying user accounts and passwords. But, as the sophistication of backups and system redundancy grew to mitigate the disruption to availability, bad actors deployed black mail techniques by threatening to post stolen material online.

Rather than simply ignoring the ransom demand while restoring their systems from backups, victims now have to worry about their sensitive data being exposed to the world and face the risks of reputation damage. Businesses whose customer information is published online could face lawsuits. The healthcare industry is particularly sensitive to this tactic. Healthcare files that are stolen and published online create a HIPAA violation for healthcare providers. 

Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) has been gaining popularity recently. A RaaS hacker creates a ransomware code and then sells it to inexperienced hackers. These hackers use the code to carry out their own ransomware attacks then give a portion of the profit to the ransomware's creator. 

Many IT managers run to cloud to mitigate cybersecurity risks. But, the large-scale adoption of cloud services by multiple business sectors has made them an attractive target for hackers. Because it is a new market for ransomware, many cloud platforms do not have proper protection, which makes hundreds of organizations vulnerable. Ultimately, your cybersecurity is your responsibility. All cloud providers offer “best-effort” cybersecurity promises.

If your company hasn’t been victimized by a bad actor demanding a ransom for your data or if you don’t want to be victimized again it’s imperative to partner with an experienced cybersecurity organization to conduct a cybersecurity assessment. SIXGEN, a full-service cybersecurity organization based in Annapolis, Maryland, has thwarted hundreds of potential cyber attacks utilizing an OSCP/OSCE certified staff armed with advanced defensive and offensive cyber capabilities to detect and respond to adversary actions, often before they strike, to protect their clients. SIXGEN’s defensive and offensive cyber capabilities allow them to detect and respond to adversary actions, often before they strike.

Many of SIXGEN’s clients were victimized by ransomware prior to engaging with SIXGEN. Most of these successful incident response (IR) engagements have led to long-term cybersecurity relationships for SIXGEN and help keep those organizations safe from being cyber victims again. SIXGEN deploys real-world adversarial attack simulations to improve the effectiveness of network safeguards. SIXGEN red teams' penetration tests uncover weaknesses before they can be exploited. The SIXGEN cyber team is highly skilled utilizing vulnerability scanning, phishing assessments, wireless assessments, web application assessments, operating system security assessments, and database assessments to discover potential malicious activity. SIXGEN’s cybersecurity operators report their findings and review recommendations based on criticality and impacts of potential attacks to help protect them in advance of any malicious activity.

The chess match between white hat and black hat hackers will always be a part of our cybersecurity world. As a community, we must stay vigilant and deploy the best possible resources to protect our resources from malicious attacks. Partnering with highly qualified cybersecurity professionals like SIXGEN is an excellent best practice. 

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