Securing Your Applications from Ransomware: Solutions and Strategies to Safeguard Your Digital Assets

April 22, 2024 ,
by Dan Goss
Vulnerability Remediation

Vulnerability Management & Remediation to help beat Ransomware!

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, ransomware attacks on organisations in the UK reached record levels in 2022. It is estimated that more than five million people were affected by serious data breaches involving the use of malware.

700 organisations were targeted by these increasingly sophisticated attacks — many of which had sophisticated security measures in place. Make no mistake; no business is completely safe from such malicious acts.

While you can never fully eliminate the threat, you can take steps to minimise the vulnerabilities within your IT infrastructure. Only a proactive approach to protecting your IT infrastructure from this ever-evolving problem will deliver ongoing protection and peace of mind for you and your partners. And that’s where Workspace IT can help. But more about that later!

Of course, you could go it alone in the fight against ransomware. But if you’re responsible for updating multiple systems several times a year, can you be certain that you’re always on top of the essential updates and patches needed to keep such digital evil at bay?

Let’s take a look at the growing problem of ransomware among the UK’s business community and assess the measures you can take to protect your organisation.

What Is Ransomware?

Lots of people have heard of the term ‘ransomware’, but not everyone knows exactly what it is. And that’s fine. As long as you take proactive measures to protect your IT infrastructure from this evolving threat — with the help of experts — you’re on the right path.

But as we’re discussing the issue, it’s probably a good idea to define it.

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user's files or locks them out of their system. The malware then demands a ransom payment for the release of the data or restoration of access.

Different ransomware variants work in different ways. For example, some encrypt critical files — making them inaccessible. Others lock the system’s screen in order to prevent anyone from accessing data.

In effect, your data is held hostage, and the criminals won’t release it until you pay the ransom. Increasingly, the criminals using ransomware ask for payment in untraceable cryptocurrency, which makes tracking wrongdoers down that much harder.

Sadly, a lot of people — in their sheer desperation — pay the ransom. But once those people have demonstrated their willingness to cooperate, criminals can take advantage by asking for more… and more… and more.

You could hand over millions in ransom payments, but you’ll never be guaranteed access to your data. The latest ransomware statistics made for sobering reading!

The best remedy for ransomware is prevention — and that involves taking a proactive approach to identifying and rectifying vulnerabilities within your IT system.

Here at Workspace IT, we offer a range of managed IT services designed to protect organisations from ransomware attacks. As well as fully managed services, we provide individual services such as Application Management, Endpoint Management and ad-hoc support services.

Whether you outsource vulnerability protection or manage it in-house, it’s always a good idea to know what’s at stake. While investing in a managed IT solution might seem like an unnecessary expense, it could be far cheaper than the alternative.

What Are the Implications of Ransomware Attacks?

If your organisation’s crucial data is held for ransom by criminals, the eventual costs could be catastrophic. In fact, in our experience, those costs can stretch far beyond the task of recovering the lost data.

Data Encryption

Ransomware encrypts files, making them inaccessible to the victim. This can lead to the temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information.

Operational Disruption

Ransomware can disrupt regular operations, causing extended downtime and financial losses for businesses.

Financial Consequences

The potential impacts include financial losses due to ransom payments, operational disruptions and damage to brand reputation.

Reputational Damage

If you can’t protect your data from ransomware attacks, why should your clients trust you to manage theirs? Once you lose personal data this way, regaining the trust of your target audience can be an almost insurmountable task.

Compromised Data

Customer and financial information may be compromised, leaving individuals vulnerable to identity theft and other cybercrime. Your inability to protect users’ data could leave other businesses and individuals at the mercy of cybercriminals.

Our Approach to Ransomware Protection

As a trusted managed IT solution provider in the UK, we utilise a range of measures and tools to protect our clients from the scourge of ransomware.

Proactive Application Management Can Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Some of the companies we protect against ransomware have hundreds of applications — across thousands of devices and users. Managing every application’s security measures individually would take hundreds of personnel hours every month, and that would mean taking the focus of employees away from essential operational and customer service-related tasks.

But not on our watch.

We use years of experience, extensive expertise and leading technologies such as Microsoft Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Microsoft Intune to manage multiple applications centrally — and without the need for a VPN.

Leaving the vital work of application management to people and manual processes is fraught with the potential for creating and exacerbating vulnerabilities. That’s why we automate and streamline application management. This means you don’t have to worry about Geoff and Inaya updating the applications on their personal computers.

Why is this important? Well, the threat of ransomware is continually evolving. It’s a cat-and-mouse game between IT experts and criminals. Protection from the very latest threats is delivered in the form of updates and patches. And that’s great news! But every second an update is ignored or missed is a second of opportunity for ransomware.

Be honest. How many times have you put off or forgotten about updating your systems, devices and apps after being prompted? It’s only natural. We’re all so busy these days, so it’s easy to forget or miss an update prompt. That’s why a proactive application management strategy is more important than ever.

What Is Microsoft Configuration Manager (SCCM )?

Microsoft Configuration Manager (SCCM) facilitates application management through various features and capabilities that streamline the deployment, updating and monitoring of applications — across multiple users, devices and accounts. Functions such as application deployment, endpoint protection and asset intelligence help us update and manage hundreds of apps across devices around the world.

What Is Microsoft Intune?

Microsoft Intune is a cloud-based service that allows remote administration to manage the deployment, configuration and security of applications from a central location.

Zero-Day Patches Are Vital in the Fight Against Ransomware

So, we’ve discussed the window of opportunity ransomware has to unleash its latest functionality on unprotected apps and devices. The time between a crucial update being launched and it actually being installed is when apps are often at their most vulnerable. For this reason, zero-day patches are essential.

A zero-day patch is a software update released by a vendor on the same day a vulnerability is discovered. This type of patch is crucial because it addresses a security flaw that was previously unknown to the vendor, making it a race against potential attacks.

Zero-day patches are critical in mitigating the risks associated with zero-day vulnerabilities. These patches aim to close the security gap and protect users from potential exploits. Vendors work urgently to develop and release these patches as soon as they become aware of the vulnerability.

Here at Workspace IT, we use tools such as PSADT (PowerShell App Deployment Toolkit) to eliminate human error or inaction. We use this tool to streamline and automate the zero-day patching process.

What Is PSADT?

The PowerShell App Deployment Toolkit (PSADT) is a framework designed to simplify the deployment and management of applications using PowerShell scripts. In human speak, it provides the functionality and tools needed to perform common application deployment tasks. We use it to customise patch deployment processes for our clients.

The Growing Importance of Modern Application Deployment Technologies

We couldn’t protect the IT systems of our clients without the latest and most powerful application deployment technologies. We use them to fully customise and audit the patching process — providing around-the-clock protection from the latest ransomware threats.

No matter how vigilant we are with regard to patching, however, ransomware always has the potential to strike. That’s why we use various tools to identify and manage vulnerabilities, some of the leading tools are briefly mentioned below.

Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management

Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management provides asset visibility, intelligent assessments and built-in remediation tools for Windows, macOS and Linux systems. Put simply, we use it to detect, assess, identify and isolate cyber threats through a process of continuous monitoring.

Tenable Vulnerability Management

Tenable Vulnerability Management helps us identify and prioritise vulnerabilities. This powerful tool uses data, machine learning and threat intelligence to flag critical vulnerabilities as and when they arise. We use the Tenable platform to take a risk-based approach to managing known and newly emerging cyber threats.

The InsightVM Vulnerability Tool Rapid 7

This powerful vulnerability management tool automates various aspects of the overall process, from data collection to risk analysis. It also provides us with an active risk score — allowing us to prioritise our threat mitigation efforts.

What’s the Best Way to Minimise Ransomware Vulnerabilities?

How do you currently manage crucial updates and zero-day patches within your organisation? Do you have a solution to identify vulnerabilities? And what’s your current exposure to potential ransomware attacks?

You may already have the answers to these questions, which means you’ve probably already taken preventative measures. Whether that’s the case or not, is controlling this process the best use of your time? And are there potential vulnerabilities you’re missing?

At Workspace IT, we provide fully managed vulnerability packages that deliver a comprehensive and proactive approach to monitoring and protecting against ransomware. If you don’t need that level of security, our application management and Windows patching services could give you peace of mind and a cost-effective way to keep all your apps and devices up to date.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to securing applications from ever-evolving ransomware threats, get in touch today.

Who Are Our Customers?

We have years of experience in a wide range of industries and our customers are all shapes and sizes and across all sectors such as Financial Services, Education, Manufacturing, Retail, the NHS, Police Forces and Local and Central Government.

Speak To An Expert

Every great collaboration with Workspace IT begins with a chat, so get in touch today to learn how we can improve your operations, save you money and future-proof your digital resources.

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