The point at which the cybercriminal emerges and demands ransom is the endgame of a cyber-attack – not the beginning. The key to minimizing – or even eliminating – the impact that a cyber-attack can have on your dealership is to detect the attack early in its lifecycle. To do this you need the right technology and expertise. With the appropriate resources you can detect the early signs of an impending ransomware attack.
Ransomware attacks are typically a work in progress that can take the cybercriminal months to pull off. During this time, they will inevitably leave traces that can divulge their presence. Here are five signs to look for:
Most cyber-attacks begin with a phishing email. This is an email that appears to be from a legitimate sender. The email will include a malicious link or an attachment. When the link or attachment is clicked, the door to your dealership is opened for the cybercriminal.
The best way to defend against a phishing email is to train dealership employees how to detect and avoid falling victim to a phishing scam.
Unusual Network Scanners
Typically, a cybercriminal will gain access to a single computer and then sniff around your network to find other resource that they can access. This is often done by installing a network scanning tool. If a network scan is occurring and your IT team is unfamiliar with the scan then an alarm should go off because you’re probably in the early phase of an attack.
Unauthorized Active Directory Access
In the early phase of a cyber-attack, the cybercriminal will attempt to gain access to your dealership’s Active Directory. The cybercriminal’s objective is to learn about Active Directory users, groups, and computers so that they can understand how to escalate their network privileges. Implementing a modern approach to cybersecurity will make it possible to detect unauthorized attempts to access Active Directory.
Common Hacker Tools
Cybercriminals use a set of tools with strange names like MimiKatz. This is a credential gathering tool that helps the cybercriminal to steal passwords and login information. Cybercriminals also use tools like IOBit Uninstaller, GMER, PC Hunter, and Process Hacker to uninstall or disable security software like antivirus. All of these tools can be identified and terminated before they do harm – if you have the proper modern cybersecurity solutions like SIEM and a team of well-trained cybersecurity professionals.
Before the cybercriminal emerges and demands a ransom payment, they often do a dry run first. This “attack rehearsal” is an attempt to test your network weaknesses and to ensure that they can successfully deploy their ransomware. The use of advanced endpoint threat protection and tools like SIEM can detect and stop these smaller test attacks and prevent the cybercriminal from being able to launch a larger attack.
It’s worth mentioning once again that the key to mitigating the impact of a cyber-attack is the early detection and swift elimination of the threat. This can only happen with the proper technologies and resources in place.