The Rise in Ransomware

Jul  29 
Nayan Patel  Vice President, Cybersecurity and Cloud Product Management and Strategy, Fiserv 

Three ways to safeguard your organization from cyberthreats

Ransomware threats are serious, and they are increasing. Recent high-profile attacks prompted President Joe Biden to sign an executive order to improve cybersecurity and protect the federal government's networks. The administration is also urging corporations and business leaders to take immediate steps to safeguard their organizations.

That call to action is hard to ignore.

Ransomware attacks have hit every sector, from financial institutions to merchants. Real-world instances reveal the damaging effect a successful ransomware attack can have on businesses and consumers.

Protecting against ransomware and similar attacks should be a top priority for every financial institution. Here are three proactive steps to help safeguard your organization from threats.

1. Understand Ransomware Entry Points and Your Vulnerabilities

Risks and vulnerabilities come from many sources, but there are a few common ways organizations become susceptible to cyberattacks. Most breaches involve phishing, exploitation of third-party weaknesses or the theft of login credentials. Although cybercriminals have employed those tactics for years, the volume has increased along with our attack surfaces.

The rise of ransomware as a service makes it easier for criminals, looking for one false step or unchecked vulnerability, to attack your organization. Our foes are no longer individuals working on their own. They are criminal enterprises – businesses or nation states with the sole purpose of stealing your data to harm your business for the betterment of their bottom line.

How can you protect your organization, assets, brand and reputation from those adversaries? It starts by putting the right solutions in place to detect, respond and remediate cyberattacks from all angles.

Learn more > CyberProtect™ from Fiserv

Monitoring and managing your systems 24/7 and mitigating threats in real time are the key to staying ahead of cybercriminals.

2. Know the Preventive Steps to Take

Monitoring and managing your systems 24/7 and mitigating threats in real time are the key to staying ahead of cybercriminals.

Because many threats come from outside an organization, monitor every aspect of what is coming into your network. Many organizations successfully use a combination of solutions to manage their detection and response and identify, prioritize and remediate threats posed by third parties.

Nearly 72 percent of targeted cyberattacks involve a phishing email, which is a form of social engineering. Employees are fooled into opening an email and clicking on a link or opening an attachment sent by a malicious actor, which, in many cases, is nearly impossible to distinguish from a legitimate sender. That often results in stolen login credentials or a ransomware infection that could hold a business hostage unless a ransom is paid.

To combat phishing, many financial institutions choose to enable two-factor authentication, such as requiring a password and then texting a code to the user, for all business applications and email. That can help prevent attackers from logging in with your employees' stolen passwords.

Malware will eventually get through email to employees' systems. Email protection software scans attachments and emails for malicious attachments and links. Endpoint security software installed on workstations and servers can block known virus signatures and is designed to stop many malicious behaviors, including the encryption of files from ransomware.

Criminals often copy a company's social media sites, website and mobile applications to trick consumers into giving their personal data to a look-alike domain that allows threat actors to steal data. The ability to receive regular threat intelligence reports of look-alike domains, fraudulent mobile applications and spoofed websites enables you to act quickly to keep your accountholder data more secure while protecting your brand from the negative implications of a cyberbreach.

3. Build Your Incident-Response Plan

Organizations with a plan in place to quickly respond to a data breach in less than 30 days will save, on average, more than $1 million per incident, according to a study by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Security. If your organization becomes a victim of ransomware, how will you make sure the data essential to running your company is backed up and accessible offline?

No business continuity plan is useful unless it's enforced and routinely tested. Having a solid, tested, practiced plan will help keep things under control when disaster strikes. Make your plan familiar to all departments in your organization. Include a holistic inventory of all vital systems, how to use them, what to do if they aren't available and the necessary steps to get them back to working order.

In accordance with the Department of Justice and White House guidance, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recently published a holistic ransomware guide outlining best practices, prevention measures and an incident-response plan checklist.

Next-Generation Protection for a New Reality

In an increasingly connected and digitally dependent world, financial institutions and other companies must achieve the highest levels of cybersecurity. Knowing potential threats to your organization – and quickly eliminating them – can help you maintain your position as a trusted financial services provider.

Learn more > Outsourcing Third-Party Cyber-Risk