How to detect and prevent ransomware
Chris Schatz (left) and Peter Misurek described the “anatomy of a ransomware attack” during the CUNA Technology Council’s 5th Annual Security Summit.

How to detect and prevent ransomware

Ward off attacks with proper password hygiene and other approaches.

September 12, 2018

The financial services industry has been plagued with several notable ransomware attacks over the past couple of years, according to Chris Schatz, senior penetration tester for Info@Risk.

These include:

  • CryptoLocker, which encrypts files on the compromised computer and then prompts the user to pay for a password to decrypt them.
  • WannaCry, a ransomware “worm” that spread across many computer networks.
  • NotPetya, a far-ranging malware that affected several global companies.
  • BadRabbit, a “drive-by” attack that tricks victims into downloading malware disguised as common applications, typically via fake Flash updates.

Common infection methods include malicious emails and attachments, vulnerable services such as SMB, malicious web pages, “malvertising,” and corrupt media such as USB drives and CDs, says Schatz, who conducted a threat simulation exercise.

On the flip side, credit unions can take certain detection and preventive measures to ward off these threats, says Peter Misurek, senior information security engineer for Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wis.

Tools to spot compromises include enabling process execution auditing, part of which entails configuring reports and rules to monitor suspicious process executions, Misurek says.

He also advises centrally logging network traffic and monitoring domain name server traffic.

Misurek says credit unions can help prevent comprises by:

  • Practicing proper password hygiene and enforcing strong passwords.
  • Limiting storage of cached credentials.
  • Restricting inbound and outbound internet protocol traffic to only what’s required to do business.
  • Implementing geo-based traffic blocking.

Misurek and Schatz addressed the CUNA Technology Council’s 5th Annual Security Summit Wednesday in San Francisco.

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