LockBit Remains Top Global Ransomware Threat

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
A new report from ZeroFox highlights LockBit’s continued dominance in the ransomware landscape, with the group accounting for 25% of all ransomware and digital extortion attacks worldwide between January 2022 and September 2023. In particular, LockBit poses a big threat to entities in North America, with an average of 40% of LockBit victims based in this region, spanning the manufacturing, construction, retail, legal & consulting, and healthcare sectors. Researchers note this is expected to increase to 50% by the end of 2023.

Security Officer Comments:
LockBit is believed to have initiated its operations in 2019. Since then, the group has worked its way up to become one of the most notorious ransomware gangs out there. Looking at past intrusions, LockBit actors use several different vectors to gain initial access and compromise victim environments. This includes phishing, the use of valid credentials to access external-facing remote services, compromising frequently visited victim websites to initiate drive-by-compromise, and exploiting internet-facing applications by abusing known vulnerabilities. It’s important that organizations are aware of these different vectors and patch their systems against known vulnerabilities to prevent being the target of potential LockBit attacks.

Suggested Correction(s):
Backup your data, system images, and configurations, regularly test them, and keep the backups offline: Ensure that backups are regularly tested and that they are not connected to the business network, as many ransomware variants try to find and encrypt or delete accessible backups. Maintaining current backups offline is critical because if your network data is encrypted with ransomware, your organization can restore systems.

Update and patch systems promptly: This includes maintaining the security of operating systems, applications, and firmware in a timely manner. Consider using a centralized patch management system; use a risk- based assessment strategy to drive your patch management program.

Test your incident response plan: There's nothing that shows the gaps in plans more than testing them. Run through some core questions and use those to build an incident response plan: Are you able to sustain business operations without access to certain systems? For how long? Would you turn off your manufacturing operations if business systems such as billing were offline?

Check Your Security Team's Work: Use a 3rd party pen tester to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against a sophisticated attack. Many ransomware criminals are aggressive and sophisticated and will find the equivalent of unlocked doors.

Segment your networks: There's been a recent shift in ransomware attacks – from stealing data to disrupting operations. It's critically important that your corporate business functions and manufacturing/production operations are separated and that you carefully filter and limit internet access to operational networks, identify links between these networks and develop workarounds or manual controls to ensure ICS networks can be isolated and continue operating if your corporate network is compromised. Regularly test contingency plans such as manual controls so that safety critical functions can be maintained during a cyber incident.

Train employees: Email remains the most vulnerable attack vector for organizations. Users should be trained how to avoid and spot phishing emails. Multi Factor authentication can help prevent malicious access to sensitive services.