Basically, what is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a form of malicious software that locks up the files on your computer, encrypts them, and demands that you pay to get your files back. Wanna Decryptor, or WannaCry, is a form of ransomware that affects Microsoft’s Windows operating system. When a system is infected, a pop up window appears, prompting you to pay to recover all your files within three days, with a countdown timer on the left of the window. It adds that if you fail to pay within that time, the fee will be doubled, and if you don’t pay within seven days, you will lose the files forever. Payment is accepted only with Bitcoin.
WannaCry encrypts files with the following extensions, appending ‘.WCRY’ to the end of the file name like .lay6, .sqlite3, .sqlitedb, .accdb, .java and .docx among others.
How does it spread?
According to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCRT), under the Department of Homeland Security, ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software. Experts say that WannaCry is spread by an internet worm — software that spreads copies of itself by hacking into other computers on a network, rather than the usual case of prompting unsuspecting users to open attachments. It is believe that the cyber-attack was carried out with the help of tools stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States.
Some forms of malware can lock the computer entirely, or set off a series of pop-ups that are nearly impossible to close, thereby hindering your work.
Who has it affected so far?
It was first reported from Sweden, Britain and France, but Russia and Taiwan are said to be the worst hit, according to US media. Over 75,000 systems have been affected. Major companies that have reported attacks are FedEx, Telefonica and National Health Service (UK).
Here are some simple steps suggested by cyber-security firm Symantec to escape a ransomware attack.
Always keep your security software up to date as new ransomware variants appear on a regular basis
Software updates will frequently include patches for newly discovered security vulnerabilities so keep operating system and other software updated.
Email is one of the main infection methods. Be wary of unexpected emails especially if they contain links and/or attachments.
Be extremely wary of any Microsoft Office email attachment that advises you to enable macros to view its content. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is a genuine email from a trusted source, do not enable macros and instead immediately delete the email.
Backing up important data is the single most effective way of combating ransomware infection. Back-ups should be appropriately protected or stored off-line so that attackers can’t delete them.
Using cloud services could help mitigate ransomware infection, since many retain previous versions of files, allowing you to “roll back” to the unencrypted form.’
Best practices to prevent ransomware attacks:
Perform regular backups of all critical information to limit the impact of data or system loss and to help expedite the recovery process. Ideally, this data should be kept on a separate device, and backups should be stored offline.
Establish a Sender Policy Framework (SPF),Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) for your domain, which is an email validation system designed to prevent spam by detecting email spoofing by which most of the ransomware samples successfully reaches the corporate email boxes.
Don’t open attachments in unsolicited e-mails, even if they come from people in your contact list, and never click on a URL contained in an unsolicited e-mail, even if the link seems benign. In cases of genuine URLs close out the e-mail and go to the organization’s website directly through browser
Restrict execution of powershell /WSCRIPT in enterprise environment Ensure installation and use of the latest version (currently v5.0) of PowerShell, with enhanced logging enabled. script block logging, and transcription enabled. Send the associated logs to a centralized log repository for monitoring and analysis.
Application whitelisting/Strict implementation of Software Restriction Policies (SRP) to block binaries running from %APPDATA%, %PROGRAMDATA% and %TEMP% paths. Ransomware sample drops and executes generally from these locations. Enforce application whitelisting on all endpoint workstations.
Deploy web and email filters on the network. Configure these devices to scan for known bad domains, sources, and addresses; block these before receiving and downloading messages. Scan all emails, attachments, and downloads both on the host and at the mail gateway with a reputable antivirus solution.
Disable macros in Microsoft Office products. Some Office products allow for the disabling of macros that originate from outside of an organization and can provide a hybrid approach when the organization depends on the legitimate use of macros. For Windows, specific settings can block macros originating from the Internet from running.
Configure access controls including file, directory, and network share permissions with least privilege in mind. If a user only needs to read specific files, they should not have write access to those files, directories, or shares.
Maintain updated Antivirus software on all systems
Consider installing Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, or similar host-level anti-exploitation tools.
Block the attachments of file types, exe|pif|tmp|url|vb|vbe|scr|reg|cer|pst|cmd|com|bat|dll|dat|hlp|hta|js|wsf
Regularly check the contents of backup files of databases for any unauthorized encrypted contents of data records or external elements, (backdoors /malicious scripts.)
Keep the operating system third party applications (MS office, browsers, browser Plugins) up-to-date with the latest patches.
Follow safe practices when browsing the web. Ensure the web browsers are secured enough with appropriate content controls.
Network segmentation and segregation into security zones – help protect sensitive information and critical services. Separate administrative network from business processes with physical controls and Virtual Local Area Networks.
Disable remote Desktop Connections, employ least-privileged accounts.
Ensure integrity of the codes /scripts being used in database, authentication and sensitive systems, Check regularly for the integrity of the information stored in the databases.
Restrict users’ abilities (permissions) to install and run unwanted software applications.
Enable personal firewalls on workstations.
Implement strict External Device (USB drive) usage policy.
Employ data-at-rest and data-in-transit encryption.
Carry out vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) and information security audit of critical networks/systems, especially database servers from CERT-IN empaneled auditors. Repeat audits at regular intervals.
Individuals or organizations are not encouraged to pay the ransom, as this does not guarantee files will be released. Report such instances of fraud to CERT-In and Law Enforcement agencies.
Beware, Stay Safe!
Hope This Helps!
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Information Brought To You By Biovolt Corporation.