Ransomware attacks are on the rise. While these activities are low-risk and high-reward for criminal groups, their consequences can devastate their target organizations.

According to the 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report, the average cost of a ransomware attack is $4.54 million, without including the cost of the ransom itself. Ransomware breaches also took 49 days longer than the data breach average to identify and contain. Worse, criminals will often target the victim again, even after the ransom is paid. These attacks put a company’s operations, staff, customers and reputation at risk.

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Here’s what your organization can do to protect itself and avoid seeing the dreaded ransomware note.

Stopping ransomware begins with detection

Ransomware attacks may seem to strike all at once, but the demand for payment is only the final stage of the attack. Long before sending a ransom note, the attackers have already gained access to the network months or even years before. On gaining initial access, the attackers move around laterally in an attempt to increase privileges on an administrator level. After succeeding, they are able to install the ransomware and encrypt files. Only after this deployment does the ransomware reveal itself to the victim.

While ransomware attacks are difficult to identify before their final attack, the starting point is understanding that traditional signature-based antivirus (AV) solutions are not enough to secure organizations against ransomware because attackers avoid using signature-based malware that can be blocked by AV solutions.

Ransomware can be detected by its behavior via an understanding of the “process steps” of an attack —  such as a backup deletion or encryption process that suddenly starts without warning. In this scenario, an endpoint detection and response (EDR) platform can help detect and remediate advanced unknown threats like ransomware in seconds.

How EDR helps prevent ransomware attacks

An EDR tool can help prevent ransomware attacks and protect your organization from potential threats, particularly in the early attack stages. Here are three ways EDR can stop ransomware:

1) Behavioral detection capabilities: The behavioral detection capabilities of the modern EDR are critical in recognizing and blocking ransomware threats that change and evolve daily to gain a foothold in organizations.

Driven by artificial intelligence (AI), EDR can detect and stop unknown threats like ransomware by identifying untrusted applications and abnormal behaviors, even if new ransomware variants emerge.

When it comes to detecting ransomware accurately, an organization should deploy EDR AI engines that use an initial learning model to identify the normal behavior of each endpoint rather than ones that rely on pre-trained models for detection.

2) Threat hunting: Undetected threats may lie dormant in an IT infrastructure for months until the attackers decide to execute the ransomware. Thus the threat-hunting capabilities of a modern EDR are vital to ensure a threat-free and clean environment.

With data mining, a modern EDR platform enables security teams to automate threat hunting and search for key events on endpoints to understand processes and applications running at any moment. A good EDR platform allows teams to spot “early warning signs” of an attack by equipping teams with a search function and comprehensive parameters to identify potential risks.

3) Offline protection: With changing work trends, employees are used to being online with a working internet or virtual private network connection that enables secure access to the network. Some EDR platforms in the market require a connection with the EDR back-end server to offer full protection.

An EDR solution helps protect users regardless of whether there is a working internet connection. This is especially important in cases of travel and remote work, where a user may accidentally open a document infected with ransomware. With an AI-powered EDR, ransomware is automatically blocked upon detection, preventing encryption from taking place.

With the many existing EDR tools in the market, how do you choose an EDR solution best suited for your business? Download the IBM Security QRadar EDR Buyer’s Guide to learn more.

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