How to Stop Ransomware

Ransomware tops the list of concerns for most security teams. Many are turning to this solution for ransomware protection and visibility, from a single platform that reduces IT complexity and optimizes performance.

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Security Service Edge (SSE) is a relatively new category. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a consolidation of three existing security categories — Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Zero Trust Network Architecture (ZTNA), and Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) — or, it’s a deconstruction of SASE that separates security capabilities from network plumbing.

Either way, SSE is not just an arbitrary addition to the security industry’s alphabet soup: it’s a highly relevant evolution of enterprise security that recognizes what organizations need to protect their distributed users, applications, and workloads against today’s ever-evolving threats.

In this three-part series, we’re outlining three case studies that showcase why SSE matters. You can find a blog for securing hybrid work here, and one for stopping data breaches here. In this blog, we’ll pull from the full SSE feature set with a case study around something on the top of most security teams’ list of concerns these days: ransomware.

How SSE stops ransomware

SSE delivers important protections across the ransomware attack lifecycle.

A ransomware attack starts with attackers infiltrating an endpoint or application from the internet through a phishing attack, exploit, or brute force. SSE’s secure web gateway capabilities help prevent this with inspection, ransomware protection, and least-privileged access control.

However, today’s attackers are sophisticated and can easily whip up new encrypted malware variants, so it’s essential that your security controls can inspect all traffic inline (whether encrypted or unencrypted) and use tools like sandboxing and isolation to quarantine and analyze unknown threats.

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Stage 1 of a ransomware attack: Initial compromise

Next, attackers move throughout your network to escalate their privileges and access your valuable data. A zero trust network architecture can mitigate damage at this stage by stopping attackers from moving laterally and granting access only to specific applications, not to other endpoints. Furthermore, by stopping lateral movement, if an attacker does manage to infiltrate an endpoint, the attack is contained – which makes it much easier to mitigate and much less likely to disrupt your business.

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Stage 2 of a ransomware attack: Lateral movement

Finally, ransomware actors execute their attack. Most ransomware attacks today include double-extortion tactics, in which attackers steal data before encrypting as many valuable files as they can access across various endpoints and network assets. Attackers will threaten to publish the files they steal, giving them leverage, as you can no longer restore encrypted files from backup and be done with it. CASB and DLP capabilities identify vulnerable data and inspect outgoing traffic to ensure your assets stay safe, stopping any exfiltration attempts to malicious servers.

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Stage 3 of a ransomware attack: Action to objective

The Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange is the industry’s most complete SSE solution.

Zscaler’s protections start before the attack even begins: its cloud-native, proxy-based architecture reduces the attack surface by making internal applications invisible to the internet, thus eliminating potential attack vectors. Next, Zscaler delivers full inspection and authentication of all traffic, including encrypted traffic, to keep malicious actors out. Zscaler safely connects users and entities directly to applications — not networks — to eliminate the possibility for lateral movement, and surrounds your applications with realistic decoys for good measure. Then, it inspects all outbound traffic to cloud applications to prevent data theft.

By unifying these technologies through the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange, organizations gain unmatched ransomware protection and visibility from a single platform that reduces IT complexity and optimizes performance.

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Zscaler is proud to be recognized for the comprehensive risk reduction that we deliver to our customers, and we’re improving every day. Our experts are continuously building new capabilities to stay ahead of attackers using advanced AI fed by data from the world’s largest inline security cloud.

Learn how the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange can protect your organization.

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