Submitted by Arctic Wolf, a Data Connectors Community Partner.


Ransomware is a growing issue for organizations around the world. In 2019, its impact was estimated at over $7.5 billion. In 2020, ransom paid by cyber attack victims grew by an astounding 311%. In 2021, the problem of ransomware has only continued to grow. What can be done to stop this evolving threat?

Staying protected from today’s threats requires organizations to implement comprehensive security operations that not only thwart attacks like ransomware and minimize their potential damage but also reduce the risk of attacks occurring in the first place.

With complete visibility of their organization’s entire environment, round-the-clock monitoring, and advanced analytics for threat detection, skilled security experts can effectively prioritize and address vulnerabilities and potential threats in a timely manner.

For any business, understanding the guidelines and enacting the practices of the National Institute of Technology and Standards (NIST) cybersecurity framework is a smart avenue to take when it comes to implementing sound security operations. The NIST framework includes 5 core functions—identity, protect, detect, respond, and recover—that can both help reduce your risk of becoming a ransomware victim, but also help you overcome an attack if you do end up compromised.


Achieving Protection Through NIST’s Five Core Functions

Ransomware attacks need vulnerabilities to exploit. These can be vulnerabilities in systems, people, or processes. The first step in protecting these is to understand what risks exist inside your environment. That is why the first function of NIST is identify.



To identify where ransomware has the potential to start, organizations must have around-the-clock monitoring for vulnerabilities, system misconfigurations, and account takeover exposure across endpoints, networks, and cloud environments. The fact is, when zero-day vulnerabilities are announced you may have just minutes to respond.  So, personalized risk remediation is vital, along with a validation process that ensures vulnerabilities were successfully eliminated.



With cybersecurity becoming increasingly complex, customized protection is essential in today’s threat landscape. Organizations need to invest in a team that understands the intricacies of their business as well as their unique environment. This lets you take a proactive approach to cybersecurity, which means eliminating the opportunities for ransomware to take over.

A big part of the “Protect” function involves cyber hygiene and employee awareness. Ninety percent of cyberattacks involve social engineering, and people do make mistakes. In fact, along those same lines, eighty-eight percent of breaches involve some form of human error. People within your organization are a critical attack surface who need protecting. With proper training, you can avoid ransomware by teaching employees to be on the lookout for social engineering attacks, like phishing, and preparing them to report mistakes that could result in data loss.

To provide effective security awareness training for your employees, you’ll need to team with a partner who can provide (and sometimes manage) the training program and its content and who can ensure your team is prepared for the latest ransomware threats they might soon encounter.



The third function in the NIST framework involves detection. As you might expect, threat detection and response capabilities can be critical in the battle against ransomware.  A solid foundation of managed detection and response (MDR) involves monitoring for ransomware threats 24×7 across your entire attack surface. By identifying suspicious activity early and correlating it across multiple data sources, you can confirm the presence of ransomware in minutes, providing the opportunity to respond and recover to help avoid a catastrophic event.

A good MDR provider can augment your existing IT team’s capabilities with a cloud-based SIEM platform, advanced analytics, and intelligence feeds that are continually monitored by skilled security experts. This goes a long way to raising your overall security posture.



Knowing you are the victim of ransomware is just the start. Effective security operations are critical to responding quickly and limiting the damage. This is where you need skilled and well-trained security experts at your side.

The effective response begins with an ability to isolate endpoints so you can eliminate threat propagation quickly and effectively. Once that occurs, you can identify the root cause and begin remediation processes. Managed investigations and rapid remote incident response to ensure that ransomware is contained before it can do damage. In addition, learning from incidents and implementing custom rules keeps your organization better protected in the future.



Security operations in all NIST functions play an important role, and that certainly applies when businesses are in the recovery phase. In a time when security breaches aren’t a matter of if, but when, cyber resilience is essential. Time is critical, and threat detection and response capabilities are key, allowing you to minimize damage and recover soon.

Also valuable are cyber insurance and assurance plans that provide financial support not only in recovery activities but also in terms of legal expenses and regulatory fees.


A strategic approach is necessary to battle ransomware. It involves expert insight and continued planning and renewed strategies.


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