5 Signs A Ransomware Attack Is Imminent

The Damage of Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks are a difficult situation when a business has accidentally allowed the entity in the network. Attackers use legitimate tools within a business’ system to obtain sensitive information. What can businesses do if infiltrated with a ransomware attack? For starters, focus on what the business has implemented in case of an attack. For instance, if you backup on a daily basis, you can roll back one day. Another example is implementing the organization’s business continuity plan. In short the plan outlines everyone’s roles in times of a catastrophe.

Partner with a managed IT service provider to determine exposed areas in the network. A network audit will assist with detecting vulnerabilities and what steps will be taken to resolve these security holes.

Ransomware can be difficult to detect, but there are warning signs associated with an attack. Here’s a list Sophos, a British cybersecurity company, provided about warning signs of an attack.

1. Network Scans

Malicious cybercriminals often start a ransomware attack by accessing one device on the business’ network. The device can be a Windows PC, MacBook Air, or a company server. The goal for the bad actor is to study the network and determine what information can be accessed easily. Therefore, software tools scan the entire network to find low hanging vulnerabilities. For instance, a cybercriminal will focus on a company server. The company server holds a lot of sensitive information. The data ranges from user passwords to documents to personal identifiable information.

A key to deterring bad cyber actors into any network is a good defense. A strong, defensive network has hardware and software components that work together to deflect virus attempts. While there’s no network than can remain impenetrable – taking necessary cybersecurity steps to prevent uninvited guests remains a crucial step for any business.

2. Disabled Antivirus Software

Hackers typically look for antivirus software on a person’s PC. Antivirus software is an application that helps protects computers from viruses. Every business workstation needs to come equipped with one. Malicious actors will disable the security software in order to implant a virus or malware to overtake the computer. An obvious sign the hacker successfully infiltrated the system would be attempting to use the antivirus software. For example, if an end user wanted to perform a virus scan but the software wasn’t opening or redirecting to a page to download another antivirus app – chances are the computer has been hacked.

To list a variety of antivirus software would be exhaustive as there are many out there that do a great job. Although, there are a few we recommend, Malware Bytes, Sophos, and BitDefender. However, we highly recommend installing the antivirus application to maintain security on a workstation.

3. Internet Browser Hijacked

On a few occasions we’ve received phone calls with claims an internet browser is compromised. For instance, when opening a browser the first page redirects to a spam website. The website consist of overseas dating services, selling fake items, or to download a faux antivirus app. What actions can be implemented to prevent browser hijacking? First ensure you have a reputable browser. Browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari or Microsoft Edge are reputable internet browsers. All are equipped with safety measures to help prevent hijacking.

Second, browsers allow extensions (small apps on a browser) to help with a variety of issues. For example a browser extension can be for taking screenshots, using a lite version of Zoom, or playing games. The possibilities are endless. When installing an extension – verify the developer is reputable and read the reviews. The reviews of peers provides excellent insight into what the extension performs within the browser.

Lastly, always keep the browser updated. Luckily browser updates are ran silently, automatic, and in the background. Typically when you close a browser and reopen the browser updates to the latest version. Confirming the browser is set to auto-update is as easy as checking the settings. An up to date browser will help plug up any vulnerabilities.

4. Suspicious Behavior

Detecting suspicious patterns may occur during a specific time of the day. In the event that a pattern comes to a realization – chances are high an unwelcome guest is in the network. The first thing to do is not panic. Working with a managed IT service provider will pay dividends in situations like this one.

First the managed IT service provider may be fully aware an outsider is in the network. Second the service provider has performed necessary cybersecurity steps, such as changing administrative passwords, confirm no data has been downloaded, and preparing to reboot the potentially infected device. In fact with the administrative password credentials updated throughout the organization – once the reboot occurs the hacker will have a difficult time getting back in.

Recognizing strange patterns is a solid way of knowing an attack may be forthcoming. Remain calm and contact the appropriate individuals as soon as possible to take action.

5. Simulated Network Attacks

On some occasions, hackers deploy small ransomware simulated attacks on a couple of workstations to determine if the attack executed successfully. Conversely if the simulated attack were unsuccessful, meaning the bad actor could not access any part of the network, the attackers would change their tactic and attempt again. Once the attacker defines what vulnerabilities remain exposed vs. closed – the malicious entity will game plan for a much larger attack.

A hardened network remains a key to any cybersecurity defense. Simulated attacks become a key aspect into determining an attack is imminent.

Education in all aspects of computers, laptops, networks, data, cybersecurity, work from home, and so forth are vital in today’s technology driven world. Zuma Technology takes on the responsibility to educate all businesses with real world examples.

Andrew Lopez
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