“What bothers me most is how preventable this all is.”
Kurtis Minder, CEO of GroupSense, provided commentary to The Baltimore Sun yesterday about “vaccinating” a company against ransomware. “What bothers me most is how preventable this all is. In fact, like current COVID-19 deaths, it’s at least 99.2% preventable. “Vaccinating” a company against ransomware isn’t expensive or technically daunting — yet companies fail at simple cyber hygiene and put their businesses, our critical infrastructure, and sometimes even people’s lives, at risk,” says Kurtis Minder.
Below are a few highlights from Kurtis’ op-ed.
I never intended to become a ransomware negotiator.
I never intended to become a ransomware negotiator. But a year and a half ago, we notified a ransomware victim that their corporate data was about to be released on a dark web “shame site” for all to see, and they pulled me in as the lead troubleshooter. Following that, more cases followed and today it’s turned into a deluge. Now I tend to show up a lot in the media as “the guy who talks to ransomware bad guys.” It’s not a job I want or particularly enjoy.
We’ve learned a lot since that first case. And I’ll put it bluntly — the bad guys are not using very sophisticated techniques in their attacks. In fact, they’re using the same old tricks they’ve used for a long time. Only instead of just stealing data (remember those “good old days?”), they’re breaking into corporate networks and unleashing ransomware.
With U.S. ransomware attacks skyrocketing more than 300%, ransomware is an epidemic that needs to be stopped.
The ransomware epidemic will stop when people stop resisting the ransomware vaccine — simple cyber hygiene. For example, studies show that more than 80% of last year’s ransomware attacks focused on something called “remote desktop protocol (RDP).” Companies are not implementing simple security controls on RDP, and the threat actors are exploiting it. Fixing that alone would substantially reduce the number of “soft targets” for ransomware attacks (and ransomware actors like soft targets — they’re easy money. So every company should strive to not be “low-hanging fruit.” Not a big ask!).
Do These Three Things
- Implement simple security controls on RDP
- Implementing multi-factor authentication (which we all know from our online banking logins) would further harden us against ransomware — yet most companies still haven’t done that.
- Enforce internal policies around strong passwords and banning the use of those passwords on personal accounts would effectively fully vaccinate organizations from ransomware.
Three steps; 99.2% protection. It’s that simple.
About Kurtis Minder
Kurtis Minder is the CEO and co-founder of GroupSense, a leading provider in Digital Risk solutions. Kurtis built a robust cyber reconnaissance operation protecting some of the largest enterprises and government organizations. Kurtis has been the lead negotiator at GroupSense for ransomware response cases. He has successfully navigated and negotiated some of the largest ransomware, breach, and data extortion cases world-wide. With over 20 years in the information security industry, Kurtis brings a unique blend of technical, sales and executive acumen.
Want to learn how to prevent ransomware?
GroupSense does some of the largest negotiations for ransomware. Ransomware is a quick and easy path to revenue for criminals. Unfortunately, ransomware isn’t always the first play in a criminal’s playbook. They usually have been in your network for a while and deploy ransomware after they’ve accessed all your data. GroupSense’s team of experienced negotiators developed cybersecurity tips to help reduce your risk.