Threat Management, Threat Intelligence, Threat Hunting

Are You and Your Clients Soft Targets?

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Cyberattacks are not a matter of "if" but "when," and the question you need to ask yourself is, "Are you a soft target?" Let’s explore the concept of being a soft target, the state of cyber threats in 2023, and effective strategies for defending against these threats.

What is a Soft Target?

A soft target is essentially a network or organization that is relatively unprotected or vulnerable to cyberattacks. If you've never thoroughly tested your backup and recovery procedures, you may not be confident in your ability to recover from an attack, making you more likely to pay a ransom in a ransomware scenario. Reliance on legacy antivirus, which often fails to detect modern threats, can also render your network a soft target.

Additionally, the absence of a rigorous vulnerability scanning and patching process leaves vulnerabilities undiscovered, and attackers are quick to exploit them. If you rely solely on prevention measures like firewalls and endpoint protection platforms, you are making yourself an appealing soft target for cybercriminals.

The State of Repeat Attacks in 2023

In 2023, the landscape of cyberattacks has seen several noteworthy changes. Dwell time, the duration that attackers remain undetected within your network, now averages around 45 days. During this time, attackers can move laterally within your network and potentially exfiltrate sensitive data. The threat of leaking infiltrated data by ransomware attackers has surged to 70%, emphasizing their dual objective of extortion.

One alarming statistic is that 45% of organizations have no plan in place to address these attacks effectively. Cybercriminals now share information about vulnerabilities through the dark web, auctioning off data to the highest bidder. If you haven't addressed the root cause of the attack and removed the threat from your network, they or their counterparts may return, making you an ongoing soft target.

How Do Cybercriminals Operate?

The initial successful attack serves as a signal that your network is vulnerable. Attackers often employ tactics such as persistence, defense evasion, privilege escalation, network discovery, lateral movement, and command and control. If their first attack succeeds, you can expect more.

The primary attack vectors are phishing emails and internet-facing Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). It's crucial to adopt a defense-in-depth strategy to mitigate these threats effectively. Other attack vectors include misconfigurations, USB removable media, and supply chain attacks.

The Secret to Effective Defense

Achieving perfect protection in the cybersecurity realm is a challenging task. However, you can transition from a soft target to a harder or hard target by adopting effective strategies:

  • Recover right the first time. Focus on a robust recovery strategy. In case of a successful attack, ensure that your recovery plan is efficient and reliable.
  • Detection and response. Embrace a proactive approach to detection and response. You must be prepared to respond effectively after the first successful attack to minimize damage.
  • Identify gaps. Understand your defensive posture and identify where your security measures fell short. Determine the root cause of the attack to plug those gaps and improve your overall security.

No organization is entirely immune to cyberattacks. The key to defending you and your client's organizations effectively is to anticipate attacks, understand your security posture, recognize potential adversaries, and recover correctly in the event of an attack. To do this, you must have continuous monitoring in place.

Looking to transform your MSP and client organizations from soft to hard targets? Consider a partner like Netsurion Managed XDR to improve your SecOps detection and response capabilities. Learn more about our Npower Partner Program.

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