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5 Best Practices for Mitigating Ransomware

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Sponsored Post: Palo Alto

Ransomware is on the minds of IT executives and managers the world over. According to the National Cyber Security Center in 2022, ransomware is the biggest cybersecurity threat facing the world today. Unfortunately, there isn’t any one security tool by itself that can prevent such attacks. That’s because network architectures and the ransomware attacks target them are constantly evolving. This means that cybersecurity strategies must evolve too. Below, we have outlined five best practice mitigation strategies that outline some of the new security approaches today that are helping to prevent or contain ransomware attacks.

Branch Edge Security

It wasn’t that long ago that multi-location companies backhauled all traffic to the corporate datacenter using expensive MPLS lines and VPN connections. That made it convenient to centrally place all your security controls at the corporate datacenter as well. Today, thanks to the proliferation of cloud services, backhauling internet traffic is no longer viable as branch users now require direct internet access for latency sensitive cloud applications and workloads. This means that security must also reside at the edge. At the same time however, branch locations cannot be treated as individual silos that create exploitable security gaps. The last thing that security teams need is more admin tools and admin interfaces to toggle through. The challenge is to distribute your cybersecurity while connecting it all together at the same time.

The answer is the Secure Access Secure Edge Framework (SASE). Branch and edge locations are made secure through the strategic placement of SD-WAN and Secure Service Edge solutions (SSE) that provide always-on monitoring for all traffic traversing these locations. These solutions are application-aware, allowing them to route and prioritize traffic accordingly. In addition to performance optimization, these edge devices include multiple security components such as next-generation firewalls, security web gateways and cloud security solutions. In the event of a ransomware attack at a branch office, the attack can be immediately contained before spreading to other locations and remediation efforts can be centrally managed. While there are multiple vendors with best-of-bread SASE solutions, only Palo Alto Networks has been identified by Gartner as a leader in both SD-WAN and SSE.

AI Powered Security

Today’s hybrid networks are dispersed across multiple geographic locations and multiple clouds. Unfortunately, legacy security controls weren’t designed for such large and complex architectures. Couple that with the intense competition for security professionals that are proficient in both on-prem and cloud-based security, and you begin to realize the importance of leveraging AI and ML across your security portfolio. Only AI can efficiently analyze the vast volumes of telemetry data created across your network and readily identify suspicious traffic patterns and malicious files. The recovery costs of a ransomware attack are now in the millions of dollars, which is why containment and remediation efforts must be implemented as quickly as possible, minutes or seconds if possible. That means there is no time for human security people to interpret security logs and metric based alerts.

Initiate a Cloud-first Security Strategy

For the same reasons why so, many organizations are increasing their usage of cloud services for their critical business applications, many are also recognizing the benefits of cloud-based security. Today’s hybrid cloud networks have vastly increased the attack surface of enterprises today and are exceeding the coverage of legacy on-prem security solutions. Cloud-first security solutions can easily scale to the changing needs of an organization and ensure unified consistent security policies and protection across vast geographic areas and public cloud environments. Like cloud computing, businesses can reduce their capital outlays and expenses by shifting to a more predictable operational expense model. Cloud-fist security gives you far greater visibility into cloud-native workloads and reduces the complexity of managing so many different on-premises solutions.

ML-Powered Next Generation Firewalls Distribution

Remember when security vendors were touting the next generation firewall (NGFW)? No longer is NGFW enough. Now you need ML-Powered NGFW. These are truly next generational security solutions that take security to the next level thanks to ML algorithms that are embedded in the firewall code itself. Thanks to their built-in intelligence, these devices can perform a multitude of security functions thanks to ML integration.

  • ML can be used to establish a baseline of normal network behavior that can be the used to identify baseline deviations that might indicate a threat action
  • ML can analyze files and content that pass through the firewall based on multiple indicative factors including file behavior
  • ML can perform User and Entity Behavior Analysis to create profiles of normal user behavior and detect anomalous user activities or actions
  • In addition to notifying the security team, ML can initiate automated responses to detected threats such as blocking a suspicious IP or quarantining a compromised system

To secure all your branch and hybrid network locations, you need these ML powered security solutions properly distributed. To achieve a unified approach to security, it is preferable to use a single vendor such as Palo Alto that offers multiple ML-Powered NGFW packages to accommodate the unique traffic load and workload needs for multiple sites.

Inject a Chat-GPT Mindset into your Security

Chat-GPT is all the rage now. While most businesses are thinking about how it will improve business productivity and efficiency, it’s time to also think about how it will affect security as well. In the same way it is helping office employees write better emails and programmers create better code, it is helping ransomware gangs write malicious code and augment content for social engineering attacks. Remember that ransomware isn’t just about data encryption. It is about data exfiltration as well.  On March 24, 2023, ChatGPT, made a  public announcement alerting customers that some data in its open-source library had been exposed during active sessions. It’s important to begin creating corporate policies concerning Chat-GPT usage as some major corporations are already restricting its usage. You also need to ensure that you go with a security vendor that is integrating Chat-GPT control into its product offerings.

Conclusion

We often hear about the importance of incorporating a multi-layer strategy to combat ransomware and these layers need to account for multiple branch and edge locations, public clouds, and generative AI. Fortunately, leading security Vendors such as Palo Alto are creating the complete solutions that organizations need today in an AI-driven cloud-first global world and cover all these bases.

This Article Sponsored by PaloAlto NetworksPalo Alto Networks

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