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Beware of a New Type of Ransomware That Attacks the Cloud

For quite a while, ransomware has been a common threat that has loomed large over businesses and individuals. It is known to have caused a lot of havoc to many business structures, leaving devastating consequences. Its mode of popular operation is to encrypt valuable data and render it inaccessible to the rightful owners or businesses until a ransom is paid to the attackers. 

This trend has caused billions of dollars in damages, disrupted services, and shaken the foundations of cybersecurity for organisations. Statista reports approximately 493.33 million ransomware attacks will hit businesses worldwide in 2022. This shows how vulnerable many businesses have been.

In response to the growing ransomware menace, organisations sought to bolster their defenses by putting effective cybersecurity measures together to curb or manage the effects of these attacks. However, just as the battle seemed to be tilting in favour of the defenders/businesses, a fresh and more sinister adversary emerged – A ransomware attack on cloud accounts.

This article looks at how the ransomware that attacks the cloud environment occurs and ways to stay protected.

Ransomware Attacks 0n Cloud Accounts 

The cloud has extensively revolutionalised the way businesses store and access data. Cloud services’ convenience, scalability, and collaborative capabilities have made them an indispensable part of daily business operations. This importance and reliance on cloud technology have drawn the attention of cyber attackers who have developed sophisticated methods to exploit it.

Cybercriminals follow a series of strategic steps to infiltrate and compromise cloud environments with ransomware. First, they gain unauthorised access to the cyber system or structure to obtain login credentials through phishing or exploiting weak authentication.

As soon as they get access inside, they escalate their privilege to acquire administrative control over critical cloud services like Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Exchange, and Teams. These escalated privileges make them identify and exploit vulnerabilities, allowing them to exfiltrate sensitive files from multiple cloud locations.

When they gain access to these sensitive files, the attackers do not immediately encrypt them; instead, they employ a double-extortion tactic, stealing the data and threatening to publish it unless a ransom is paid. This dual approach puts a level of pressure on the victims to comply. 

This new method has been effective for attackers and has made cloud-targeted ransomware a growing and concerning trend.

Protecting Your Cloud Account from Ransomware Attacks

When a ransomware attack is successful, most organisations have few alternatives to respond to such attacks. Solutions are often expensive and time-consuming to deploy. As a result, the best defense against a ransomware attack on your cloud environment is by taking steps to prevent the attack from happening in the first place. Follow these steps to stay protected.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is an additional security structure (second line of defense) that has become essential in protecting accounts. Although the use of regular passwords (first line of defense) alone is a protective measure, it can be compromised as passwords are easy to guess and vulnerable to brute force. As a result, to protect your cloud structure, in addition to your username and password, enable multi-factor authentication to all cloud accounts. 

Even if the first line of defense is compromised, the second line of defense will serve as a barrier because the hacker will require various authentication factors, like an OTP, biometrics recognition, and more, to gain access to the cloud network.

This protects against unauthorised attempts and some of the biggest cyber risks faced by remote and onsite teams that lead to ransomware attacks.

Limit Privileges

Minimise the number of users that have administrative privileges to your cloud accounts. This reduces the potential attack surface for ransomware attacks and makes it difficult for cyber-attackers to infiltrate your cloud environment and gain control over sensitive information. 

Regularly review and update access privileges to ensure that only authorised personnel have access to critical data.

Employ Cloud Security Solutions

Cybercriminals constantly innovate and get sophisticated with their attack methods which you may find challenging to keep up with the limited preventive measures you have in place. This is why you must invest in robust cloud security solutions that offer comprehensive threat detection and real-time monitoring. 

These solutions employ advanced algorithms to identify suspicious activities, patterns, and behaviours associated with ransomware attackers, regardless of how sophisticated they are. Leveraging these security solutions will help you to proactively detect potential threats and take swift actions to stop any attack.

Educate Employees

Your employees are constant targets of cyber attackers; even the most junior staff with access to a cyber account or gadget can be a channel of intrusion. This is because they are the weakest link and more vulnerable to various cyber-attack.

This is why regularly educating your employees on cybersecurity, its risks, and attack types is essential. Train your employees about the risks of ransomware attacks and the best practices to take to prevent an attack. This training goes a long way in mitigating ransomware attacks.

Also, educate them on how to recognise suspicious emails, links, and attachments that may be used as entry points for ransomware and what to do if they suspect a breach. This training session can be held quarterly, twice a year, or annually. This training should also be available for both onsite and remote staff.

Regular Backups

Regularly back up critical information to a separate, secure location not directly accessible from the primary cloud environment. In the event of a ransomware attack, having clean and up-to-date backups ensures you can restore your data without succumbing to the attacker’s demands. 

This approach provides peace of mind and significantly reduces the impact of potential ransomware incidents.

Partner With Connected Platforms for Cloud Account Defense 

Ransomware attacks on cloud accounts are increasingly becoming a threat to beware of, but they can be prevented and countered. At Connected Platforms, our IT experts are trained to offer the best cybersecurity measure to safeguard your cloud environment. 

Contact us today to start protecting your business from attacks.

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