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The Vulnerability of External VPNs to Ransomware Attacks: How Zero Trust Can Provide Enhanced Protection

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The Vulnerability of External VPNs to Ransomware Attacks: How Zero Trust Can Provide Enhanced Protection

After discussing with our Security Operations Centre (SOC) team and reviewing the areas causing concern, we wanted to bring attention to the issues regarding the security of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Ransomware attacks have gained notoriety due to their ability to disrupt operations and extort victims. While external Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have traditionally been considered reliable for securing remote connections, recent incidents have shed light on their vulnerability to ransomware attacks. This blog post aims to delve into the risks associated with external VPNs and shed light on how adopting a zero-trust approach can enhance protection against these malicious attacks.

Understanding the Vulnerability

External VPNs are a crucial conduit between remote users and internal networks, enabling secure access to valuable resources. However, it is essential to acknowledge that they can also become a potential entry point for cybercriminals. Ransomware attacks, in particular, often exploit vulnerabilities in VPN protocols, software, or misconfigurations to gain unauthorised access. Once these attackers infiltrate the network, they can swiftly encrypt critical data, leaving organisations helpless unless a hefty ransom is paid.

Since the shift to remote and hybrid work, 44% of cybersecurity professionals have witnessed increased exploits targeting their business’s VPN.

44% Increased Exploits Of Vpn Source: www.cybersecurity-insiders.com

The Role of Zero Trust

Zero Trust, an evolving security concept, challenges the traditional perimeter-based approach to network security. Instead of unthinkingly assuming trust within the network, zero trust adopts a more cautious stance by accepting zero trust and verifying every user, device, and connection before granting access. By embracing a zero-trust model, organisations can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to ransomware attacks and mitigate their potential impact.

Since the recent shift to remote and hybrid work, 68% of companies have been accelerating their zero-trust projects.

68% Accelerating Zero Trust Projects

Source: www.cybersecurity-insiders.com

 

Implementing Zero Trust

 

 1. Identity and Access Management (IAM): To fortify their security posture, organisations should implement a robust IAM system that ensures only authorised individuals can access critical resources. Adding an extra layer of security, multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires users to provide multiple forms of verification, further bolstering the protection of valuable assets.

 

2. Micro-segmentation: Dividing the network into smaller, more manageable segments is a prudent step towards limiting access to sensitive data based on user roles and permissions. This strategic approach effectively reduces the potential impact of a ransomware attack by containing its spread within a confined segment.

 

3. Network Monitoring and Logging: Continuous monitoring and logging of network traffic play a pivotal role in identifying suspicious activities and potential indicators of compromise. By promptly detecting any signs of a ransomware attack, organisations can take swift action to prevent its spread and limit the damage caused.

 

4. Encryption: Implementing robust encryption measures is paramount to safeguarding data at rest and in transit. By encrypting sensitive information, organisations add a layer of protection that prevents unauthorised access, even in a breach.

 

5. Endpoint Protection: To minimise the chances of infection through external VPNs, organisations should consider implementing advanced endpoint protection solutions. These solutions are designed to detect and block ransomware attempts, effectively thwarting potential breaches and safeguarding critical assets.

 

These solutions are designed to detect and block ransomware attempts, effectively thwarting potential breaches and safeguarding critical assets.

Benefits of Zero Trust

  • Enhanced Security: Zero Trust’s core focus on continuous authentication, authorisation, and encryption significantly reduces the attack surface, providing enhanced security and protecting critical assets from malicious actors.

 

  • Flexibility and Scalability: One of the critical advantages of adopting a zero-trust approach is its ability to adapt to dynamic environments. This flexibility allows organisations to scale their security measures without compromising usability or hindering productivity.

 

  • Compliance: Zero Trust aligns seamlessly with various regulatory frameworks, enabling organisations to meet compliance requirements and effectively protect sensitive data. This alignment ensures that organisations can maintain regulatory compliance while bolstering their security posture.

Conclusion

As ransomware attacks evolve and grow in sophistication, it has become evident that external VPNs are no longer immune to their threats.

To effectively protect against these malicious attacks, organisations must wholeheartedly embrace a Zero Trust security model that prioritises continuous authentication, authorisation, and encryption.

By implementing robust identity and access management, micro-segmentation, network monitoring and logging, encryption, and endpoint protection, organisations can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to ransomware attacks and safeguard their critical assets.

The time to adopt Zero Trust is now, as cyber threats continue to escalate in both sophistication and frequency, posing a constant challenge to organisations worldwide.

How we can help

As stated at the beginning of this blog, we have an active SOC team whose sole responsibility is preventing attacks and cyber-crimes within our customer’s organisations. Our primary objective is to provide a holistic cyber security framework encompassing prevention, detection, and response to potential threats.

We understand that each organisation has different risk profiles; therefore, our solutions are tailored to address your business’s vulnerabilities and compliance requirements. By implementing our cyber security measures, Aura can ensure your critical assets’ confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Is VPN currently opening up your business to risk? Let us help you uncover your attack surface. Contact us today to safeguard your critical assets.

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