The use of ransomware is a disturbing trend on the rise among cyber hackers. Ransomware is sent to a company, or to an individual user, through an email phishing method. This email method has recently been successful in tricking unsuspecting individuals to open emails that appear trustworthy but are not. Once the email is opened, the ransomware spreads through a company’s network. The ransomware then encrypts files, and will not unlock unless the ransom is paid. An article on CNNMoney.com discussed the recent hacking and deployment of ransomware into Methodist Hospital’s network, in western Kentucky. In this case, the hackers’ attempts were unsuccessful. Methodist Hospital chose not to pay the ransom, in order to revive their computer systems. Instead, the hospital chose to simply shut down the affected areas. Other hospitals have chosen different methods for handling these attacks; some have paid the ransom to regain access to their files. Likely these attacks will continue to occur, unless hospitals and other companies with sensitive data, observe this trend and take the necessary steps to guard their networks.
One way for these hospitals to secure their networks from ransomware and other cyber attacks, is to install Centripetal Networks RuleGate appliance. The RuleGate filters all of the traffic on a company’s network and monitors for any indicators of attack. The RuleGate ingests threat intelligence and enforces polices based on the information it receives. Network security then configures the RuleGate to block, alert, or monitor based on any traffic hitting those policies. In addition, Centripetal’s QuickThreat product allows an enterprise to visualize the matching threat intelligence events that are occurring on a company’s network in real-time. Using QuickThreat also allows analysts to adapt their protections in real time. The differentiating factor between the RuleGate and other cyber protection systems, is that the RuleGate scales to the size of the threat. Therefore, hospitals and other companies who possess private information, need a tool that can handle the magnitude of cyber attacks that likely can and will come.
Unfortunately, the trend of cyber attacks involving ransomware is just beginning. Since the event at Methodist Hospital on March 16th, MedStar Health Systems computer systems were attacked and encrypted, possibly by ransomware. Instead of waiting to be infiltrated, organizations should take action immediately to update their systems and install a threat intelligence defense system. Centripetal’s RuleGate appliance and QuickThreat product together offer flexible deployment and enforcement of security policies on threats at full line rate, without any change in network performance. This level of protection allows visibility into who is attacking a network at the very moment it is occurring, and then can stop it. Organizations who are not practicing network security of this level, should move quickly to take steps to safeguard their data, since cyber attacks are increasing in velocity and proportion.