Cybersecurity Expert Highlights Human Vulnerabilities & Ransomware Data Protection

Security experts convened at the BW Security World Conclave & Excellence Awards 2023 to discuss the rising menace of ransomware attacks, emphasising the need for proactive measures to safeguard critical data.

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats, ransomware has emerged as a formidable adversary, often holding critical data hostage for financial gain. A group of experts on Friday gathered at BW Security World Conclave & Excellence Awards 2023 (Day 1) to discuss the challenges and ransoms and how the companies can save themselves from it.

Sanjay Kaushik, MD, Netrika Consulting compared ransomware attacks to data kidnapping, where victims are coerced into paying hefty ransoms to retrieve their invaluable information. 

“The entire IT Infrastructure of a particular ecosystem is required to be safe and emails coming to an individual standalone computer, the malware getting into it and sleeping for months,” he said.

He added, “There’s a study that says that it takes around 230 days to know that the malware is active inside the system.”

Kaushik also highlighted a concerning trend—threat actors leveraging the GDPR act to pressure companies into paying larger ransoms, exploiting the gap between what individuals and organisations are willing to pay in the event of a breach.

Anuj Agarwal, Chairman Centre for Research on Cyber Crime and Cyber Law delved into the many entry points that ransomware can exploit, emphasising that humans are often the weakest link. 

The weakest link is we humans, our psychology because we’re driven by two things one is our greed and second is our fear. If we want to be safe from ransomware, then we have to control our greed and fear,” he said.

Agarwal stressed that ransomware attacks can originate from seemingly unlikely sources, including PCs, mobile devices, air conditioners, and even washing machines—all now equipped with AI capabilities. 

Punyasaloka Panda, CPP, VP – Global Assistance & Pro-tection (GAP), IndiaRegional Protective Services, Accenture Solutions outlined the three pillars of any effective security system: machine, man, and process. He recognised the inevitable vulnerabilities that exist within the gaps where these three elements intersect.

To proactively defend against ransomware, Panda suggested a multi-faceted approach. For machines, he emphasised patch management, email filtering, network segmentation, backups, and stringent access control. 

“We can trust our employees but we have to verify them, and this verification should happen every time. The people training is a must, like awareness about this ransom. Security audits should be there for every process,” he emphasised.

Sam Dutta, Founder & CEO, stressed the paramount importance of backups, reiterating it three times to underscore its significance. He emphasised that backups are the linchpin to business continuity, ensuring that data remains intact even in the face of ransomware attacks.

He highlighted, that detecting exfiltrated data is crucial, and encryption is a powerful tool to ensure that if data is exposed, it remains unreadable.

“Your data is gone, you should have controls in place to detect the data has been exfiltrated post the event you’re able to confirm that it has been exfiltrated then the threat they have holds good. But if you can confirm, I’m putting the stress on confirm as if you know that your data is not been exfiltrated then it can be an empty threat,” he explained.

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