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      Information Security

      Defend Your Data Against the Escalated Akira Ransomware & Other Emerging Malware

      Dec 04, 2023

      4 minute read

      Compared to Q2 of 2022, there’s a 97%[i] increase in cases of ransomware attacks in Q2 of 2023.

      Amidst today’s deeply interconnected digital landscape, it is crucial to understand that the frequency and sophistication of these malicious exploits continue to rise.

      And falling prey to such ransomware attacks goes beyond financial losses. A lack of solid cybersecurity measures can further adversely impact your enterprise security.

      Therefore, the alarming surge in successful attacks has brought about a sense of urgency for businesses to reevaluate their cybersecurity strategies.

      In this blog post, you will learn how to build a comprehensive defense strategy to mitigate the damages caused by cyber threats and restore normal operations.

      It will also help you understand the recent emergence of Akira ransomware, its modus operandi, and crucial strategies to protect your business from disruptions.

      Let’s dive in!

      All You Need to Know About Akira Ransomware

      All You Need to Know About Akira Ransomware

      What is Akira Ransomware?

      Akira ransomware first appeared in March 2023 and has quickly become a significant cybersecurity threat, with a number of high-profile attacks being attributed to it.

      Akira, the modular ransomware, is made up of different customizable components and is targeting both Windows and Linux systems. It typically gains access to systems through phishing emails and exploiting known vulnerabilities.

      The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has even issued a warning against this virus because it is known for its double extortion tactics.

      Real-World Examples of Organizations Impacted By Akira

      1. Akira is said to have targeted the widely adopted Cisco VPN products and used the compromised VPN accounts to breach corporate networks.

      2. The Mexican government was also hit by a ransomware attack attributed to Akira. The attack affected several government agencies, including the Ministry of Finance and Foreign Affairs.

      3. The Belt Railway Company of Chicago, which is the largest intermediate switching terminal railroad in the US, was added by the Akira ransomware group to its leak site and stole 85 GB[ii] of data.

      Mitigation Strategies Against Akira Ransomware & Other Malware

      1. Regularly Update Security Patches

      Ransomware attacks often exploit known vulnerabilities in operating systems, software applications, or network infrastructure. By regularly updating security patches, you can promptly address these vulnerabilities. It will also allow you to block potential exploit paths that ransomware actors may attempt to use.

      Since outdated or unpatched software represents a larger attack surface, regular patching minimizes the attack surface, fixes the vulnerabilities, and reduces the opportunities for ransomware to propagate within your network. Moreover, it also prepares you to withstand and recover from such attacks.

      2. Implement Strong Authentication Protocols

      Ransomware attacks often begin with the user credentials getting compromised through phishing or brute force attacks. Since robust protocols such as multi-factor authentication require users to provide multiple forms of verification, it significantly reduces the likelihood of unauthorized access even if passwords are compromised.

      Also, implementing strict access controls is key to limiting the number of potential entry points and restricting access to critical resources. Strong authentication systems provide detailed audit logs that record user access and authentication attempts, which is invaluable for timely detection and incident response.

      3. Conduct Social Engineering Training for Employees

      Training employees to recognize and report suspicious emails is a great way to prevent them from falling victim to ransomware attacks. These training programs typically teach employees about common social engineering techniques, such as pretexting, baiting, or tailgating. Understanding how these tactics work enables employees to be more vigilant against manipulative, malicious actions.

      Moreover, employees who receive social engineering training are better equipped to identify red flags of a potential attack. Adding to that, this training doesn’t only protect against external threats. It also raises awareness about insider threats, where employees may unintentionally or intentionally assist attackers. Recognizing the signs of suspicious behavior can help the employees address insider threats too.

      4. Encourage a Culture of Vigilance

      Encouraging a culture of vigilance within your organization is a powerful defense against ransomware-related incidents, such as suspicious downloads, and unauthorized access. When employees are encouraged to be vigilant, they are more likely to promptly report any unusual activity in the early stages only.

      Such an environment also fosters incident response readiness and promotes a collective line of defense. This joint awareness and commitment is crucial to significantly enhance the organization’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to ransomware attacks effectively.

      5. Prepare a Data Recovery Plan

      A well-prepared data recovery plan ensures that your critical data is regularly backed up and stored in secure, off-network locations. It outlines the procedures and resources necessary to quickly restore affected systems and data.

      Such plans give you the option of recovering your data without paying the ransom, reducing financial risk, and restoring data integrity.

      Part of preparing a data recovery plan involves regularly testing the backup and recovery processes and addressing the identified shortcomings. Furthermore, such plans can be tailored to prioritize the restoration of critical systems and data, and getting these affected resources up and running.

      6. Utilize Advanced Endpoint Protection Tools

      Endpoint protection tools offer real-time threat detection using behavior analysis and machine learning to identify ransomware activities, even if the variant was previously unknown. They excel at blocking malicious payloads and preventing ransomware from executing on endpoints.

      Additionally, these tools can be leveraged for monitoring file and process activities, triggering alerts for suspicious changes, and enabling rapid response to such incidents. Some solutions even automate containment and remediation actions, limit the spread of these infections, and accelerate recovery.

      With centralized management and integration of threat intelligence, these tools provide a comprehensive defense, making them an essential component in safeguarding your network.

      The Verdict

      Looking at the growing sophistication around ransomware software like Akira and other recent malware threats, it is crucial to emphasize the immediate need for implementing robust mitigation practices.

      As we navigate the dynamic cybersecurity landscape, taking proactive steps to address the rising cyber threats is crucial to protect data and prevent devastating attacks like Akira.

      Need Help Implementing Ransomware Mitigation Practices? Talk to Us!

      Our cybersecurity experts closely monitor the rise of ransomware, including Akira and others, and can assist you in developing strategies to minimize their impact. Learn more about our cybersecurity services, here, or you can also drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll take it from there.


      [i] Ransomware Q3 Report
      [ii] Ransomware Statistics

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