3 simple solutions to guard against ransomware

Automated tools give IT teams visibility, access and control to protect agency systems from increasingly sophisticated attacks.

Government agencies are extremely rich targets for cybercriminals. Not only do they house a massive amount of highly sensitive data on virtually every citizen -- from Social Security information to tax, health and criminal records -- but they also provide vital services that keep communities running smoothly and safely.

While a data loss or compromise could certainly be problematic for millions of citizens, a ransomware attack could shut down critical services like public safety, utilities and others, potentially plunging cities or even states and the federal government into chaos. In addition to the risk of attack on an individual agency, the fact that so many now integrated with shared databases (for example, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid system links directly to the IRS’s tax return database) dramatically expands the potential threat surface.

Not to mention, public trust is a huge issue. Every citizen reasonably expects that the agencies they trust to govern, protect and provide vital services will safeguard data and resources with the most advanced technology available on the market.

The reality is far less ideal

The public would likely be quite shocked to know that, according to a recent report, organizations have zero visibility over more than a third of their endpoints, and no control over more than 40%. They’re essentially wildcards -- devices that are being used routinely by employees with zero IT oversight into what software is operating on the machine, its OS version/update status or control over who can do what through its native admin tools.

As a result, when these machines are neglected -- when IT has no knowledge of or ability to manage their status and keep them updated with patches and security protocols -- it creates a massive risk surface. In fact, on average, just 66% of organizations’ software estate is current, which means that over a third is outdated. Considering that most of the largest, most damaging recent attacks, such as NotPetya and WannaCry, leveraged known vulnerabilities for which patches had been made available, it’s no wonder that over 60% of organizations have been breached in the last two years, and over 30% have been hit more than once.

IT organizations simply don’t have enough visibility or control over their endpoints to fully protect themselves from the ever-growing risk. Why? Because the tools they’re forced to use aren’t designed for modern computing.

Modern computing demands modern solutions

Most IT organizations rely on antiquated solutions that haven’t evolved much since the days of mainframe computing: VPN, PowerShell, Command Prompt and Remote Desktop Protocol  (RDP). Managing and updating thousands of endpoints with these manual tools is incredibly inefficient, time consuming and, in the case of remote workers, practically impossible. As a result, IT security doesn’t trust IT operations to keep things up to date and respond to breaches in a timely manner, creating animosity and lack of cooperation between the two teams.

Protection begins with getting the house in order. IT managers can’t protect what they can’t see, and they can’t maintain what they can’t access. Here’s how to finally take back control of the entire IT landscape and protect it against ransomware and other malware threats:

1. Bring every single endpoint current with patching. It’s a deceptively simple solution for preventing the majority of ransomware attacks that exploit known, yet unpatched, vulnerabilities. To do so, agencies must implement automated endpoint management solutions that download, deploy and install routine OS and software patches on their own. It’s the only way IT teams can handle the volume and cadence of today’s update and patching protocols. By leveraging these tools, IT teams can bring more than 90% of their devices current and focus their energies on those that need manual updates. It’s a tremendous productivity boost.

2. Automate any routine task. In addition to patching, using automated tools to handle migrations, software asset management, reporting and other typical tasks can alleviate a massive amount of manual labor. This allows IT to focus on more strategic tasks, including network and device security, and troubleshooting and resolving user issues. It can also help to improve any breach/remediation response by freeing up resources to go to work on problems when they arise.

3. Lock down admin tools. The extremely powerful tools like PowerShell, Command Prompt and RDP that IT professionals use every day are increasingly becoming the targets of attacks, in which bad actors use these otherwise beneficial tools to remotely perform malicious tasks, sometimes called "living off the land binaries and scripts," or LOLBAS, attacks. These tools should only be enabled for an official IT personnel to perform necessary tasks; otherwise, they should be disabled on every endpoint. Again, automated solutions can help make this process more efficient. Solutions that “turn on” these tools like a switch for admins with valid credentials and then immediately disable them after use are incredibly valuable for keeping an agency's vulnerable assets protected.

Getting the house in order can give any government agency the visibility, access and control to protect itself from the barrage of increasingly sophisticated attacks. Leveraging automated tools is a critical necessity in doing so, because it gives IT teams the ability to reasonably manage the volume of tasks they’re expected to perform every day, all while mounting a strong defense against attacks and unexpected events.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.