In the cybersecurity triad – Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability (CIA) – the availability of data is, in some cases, more critical than its confidentiality. Enterprises need many types of data to make business decisions, and when that data is not available or is untrusted, then it could impact the enterprise. An easy example is weather information to a transportation enterprise.
When attackers compromise assets, they make changes to configurations, add accounts, and often add software or scripts. These changes are not always easy to identify, as attackers might have corrupted or replaced trusted applications with malicious versions, or the changes might appear to be standard-looking account names. Configuration changes can include adding or changing registry entries, opening ports, turning off security services, deleting logs, or other malicious actions that make a system insecure. These actions do not have to be malicious; human error can cause each of these as well. Therefore, it is important to have an ability to have recent backups or mirrors to recover enterprise assets and data back to a known trusted state.
There has been an exponential rise in ransomware over the last few years. It is not a new threat, though it has become more commercialized and organized as a reliable method for attackers to make money. If an attacker encrypts an enterprise’s data and demands ransom for its restoration, having a recent backup to recover to a known, trusted state can be helpful. However, as ransomware has evolved, it has also become an extortion technique, where data is exfiltrated before being encrypted, and the attacker asks for payment to restore the enterprise’s data, as well as to keep it from being sold or publicized. In this case, restoration would only solve the issue of restoring systems to a trusted state and continuing operations. Leveraging the guidance within the CIS Controls will help reduce the risk of ransomware through improved cyber hygiene, as attackers usually use older or basic exploits on insecure systems.
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