Ransomware Attacks: Knowing Your Company’s Weaknesses Is Key To Stopping Them

by | October 26, 2021 | How to, Cybersecurity

Ransomware attacks happen all the time, and your business could become the next target. A company that can’t objectively assess its own security flaws makes for a perfect potential victim. Knowing your network’s vulnerabilities can help you stop such attacks.

This article will walk you through certain anti-ransomware practices that you need to start applying in your company to help you stay in the clear.

Ransomware is currently the biggest cybersecurity threat, and companies are still unprepared to face it. However, the impact of an attack can be minimized if you have a thorough understanding of your own network’s security vulnerabilities and the proper defenses in place.

A Different Approach To “Divide And Conquer”

While stopping ransomware from infecting your systems is the best protection method, understanding how the network is put together can help slow down or stop an attack from spreading, even if the bad guys have successfully broken in.

The best method to achieve this is to segment the network so different departments of your company are separated from one another. By doing so, you’ll stop attackers from further infiltrating and compromising your systems, even if they did breach them.

“You want to make it difficult to cross certain boundaries, so you can lessen the impact of malware or ransomware,” Ed Williams, director of SpiderLabs EMEA at Trustwave, told ZDNet.

“If you can do that and just one business unit gets compromised, then that is much easier to isolate to determine what’s going on, contain it, and then bring services back online. [If] it’s an entire organization, then it gets really difficult.”

Segment your data to prevent ransomware attacks from spreading uncontrolably inside your network.

Know Your Network’s Weaknesses

After infiltrating your network, cybercriminals will figure out what it looks like, determine the best way to move around, and find a weak spot to launch the ransomware attack.

“The first thing that I always recommend all organizations do, regardless of size, is have a really good understanding of what assets they’ve got. The reason why that is, if you don’t know what assets you’ve got, you can’t secure them,” Williams said. 

“Once you’ve got a good understanding of what your assets look like, you can build in layers then, so you can do good vulnerability management to make sure that there’s no exploits available for your kit that’s out there – and making sure you’re doing this regularly because exploits come out quickly and can get weaponized quickly,” he added. 

Beware Of The Phish

Ransomware attacks start with a simple phishing email.

Phishing is a cyberattack in which scammers send an email impersonating a brand, an organization, or even a friend, and aim at stealing your sensitive data. Typically, attackers take one of the following two routes:

  • including a legitimate-looking malicious link that leads to a credential-stealing site.
  • attaching a file that contains malware, disguised as a harmless PDF, .doc, .xls, or other types of file.

If an email…

  1. Repeatedly asks you to take urgent action

Scammers use this strategy to distract the target or cause stress/panic. Typically, this type of email also includes a negative consequence if the employee fails to take the required action. Targets are so keen to avoid the negative consequence that they overlook inconsistencies or indications that the email may be bogus.

2. Has spelling errors

Most organizations now use spell-checking tools. Emails pretending to come from a reputable, professional source that contains spelling or grammatical mistakes should be studied carefully and treated with suspicion.

3. Starts with an unfamiliar greeting

Usually, emails sent by friends and co-workers start with an informal greeting. Those addressed to “Dear Jane” when that salutation is not normally used, and those using an unfamiliar language should not be actioned or replied to. What your employees should do instead, is report them to the company’s IT security team.

4. Comes from an unfamiliar address

Your employees should always check the sender’s email address, especially when an email address belonging to a regular contact is unfamiliar. It’s possible to spot inconsistencies by checking the sender’s address against previous emails received from the same person and avoiding a disaster.

5. Contains suspicious links, domain names, and attachments

Scammers can easily disguise links to malicious websites to appear genuine. Therefore, the classic method of hovering the mouse pointer over it to see what ‘pops up’ is advisable. Dropbox, OneDrive, or SharePoint are widely used for file sharing, so emails from colleagues with file attachments should be treated with caution – especially if the attachment has an unfamiliar extension or one commonly used to deliver malware (.zip, .exe, .scr, etc.).

6. Seems too good to be true

Generally speaking, if something seems too good to be true, it most likely isn’t. The same goes for phishing emails, which attackers craft so that they entice the target into clicking a link or opening an attachment with the false promise of a benefit.

7. Requests sensitive data

Often, phishing emails ask for login credentials, payment information, or other sensitive data, claiming that the employee needs to update a password, provide payment details, make a wire transfer, and so on. Therefore, any email requesting those should be treated with caution.

…You’re most likely being phished.

Implement Security Awareness Training – ATTACK Simulator Is Here To Save The Day

A vast majority of ransomware attacks are spread through phishing emails.

To prevent such costly incidents from happening, implement security awareness training in your company.

Over one billion phishing emails are sent out each day, and many of them bypass security filters. Thus, you need to be able to rely on your employees to stay vigilant and spot phishing scams.

You can successfully defend your business partly by training your employees on cybersecurity matters and especially phishing attacks, and partly by adopting more rigorous security measures, such as implementing multi-factor authentication and user behavior analytics.

Researching the latest phishing trends and strategies and properly training your employees can be a hassle, so leave it to professionals.

One phish, two phish, automated fake phish

Here are a few perks of choosing us:

  • Automated attack simulation – we simulate all kinds of cyberattacks.
  • Real-life scenarios – we evaluate users’ vulnerability to give a company or personal data away using realistic web pages.
  • User behavior analysis – we gather user data and compile it into extensive reports to give you a detailed picture of your employees’ security awareness level.
  • Malicious file replicas – our emails contain malware file replicas, to make the simulation as realistic as it can be.
  • Interactive lessons – if employees fail to recognize our traps and fall into one, they will discover lessons on the best security practices.
  • Brand impersonation – we impersonate popular brands to make the phishing simulations all the more realistic.

ATTACK Simulator’s Security Awareness Training program will help you equip your employees with the necessary security knowledge and up-to-date security practices to keep your company safe from scammers and avoid potentially irreparable damage.

Put your employees to the test with our free security awareness training trial and find out where you stand against a phishing attack!


ZDNet Ransomware: Looking for weaknesses in your own network is key to stopping attacks


Data illustrations by Storyset

People illustrations by Storyset

by Diana Panduru

Content writer for Attack Simulator. Passionate about all things writing and cybersecurity, and obsessed with driving. I sometimes indulge in pencil drawing, poetry, and cooking for fun.

There’s no reason to postpone training your employees

Get a quote based on your organization’s needs and start building a strong cyber security infrastructure today.