Can Your Business Automate Its Ransomware Response?

Zac Amos
Can Your Business Automate Its Ransomware Response?
Illustration: © IoT For All

Automated incident response tools allow IT security teams to rapidly detect and respond to cyber threats. Ransomware attacks get more common and more expensive every year. Businesses need to adopt new technologies to defend their data and customers.

Fortunately, security tools and strategies exist that can automate the process of identifying and stopping ransomware attacks. 

What is Automated Incident Response?

Automated incident response is a cybersecurity approach that automates aspects of threat detection, network monitoring, and the handling of suspicious activity. There are many types of automated incident response tools available, such as data analysis tools or artificial intelligence (AI) network monitoring. 

While not all aspects of incident response can be fully automated, implementing automation where possible can improve incident response times, reducing the potential negative impact of a cyber attack.

Rapid Incident Response Is Vital Today

Efficiency is especially important given the rising price and frequency of cyber attacks. The global cost of cybercrime rose over 900 percent from 2018 to 2022. Phishing and ransomware attacks have become particularly popular, and ransomware as a Service (RaaS) is increasing the availability of tools for cybercrime.

The global cost of cybercrime rose over 900 percent from 2018 to 2022.

-Zac Amos

Improving response times and threat monitoring is vital to defending against cyber attacks. One difficulty in stopping ransomware attacks is the sheer number of channels hackers can use to launch an attack. Ransomware can be delivered in malicious emails or websites, through malware, or from one infected device to another.

Human error plays a major role in cyber risks. Surveys show 23 percent of people who receive phishing messages open them. That means businesses need to monitor activity across their entire network and plan for spontaneous risk factors like an employee randomly receiving a phishing email. 

Automated Incident Response Tools and Tactics

With so many cybersecurity automation tools on the market today, it can be confusing to know where to start. A few key tools and tactics have proven highly effective in automating incident response processes. 

Machine Learning and AI

One of the most important tools in automated incident response is artificial intelligence. AI and machine learning are both becoming valuable technologies for defending against ransomware. Businesses can use AI for active network monitoring as well as security data analysis. 

AI algorithms are adept at pattern recognition, making them the perfect tool for detecting signs of suspicious network activity. For instance, a machine learning algorithm could be trained to recognize phishing emails and then deployed as an AI filter that automatically deletes or flags these suspicious messages. AI can similarly be used for identifying malicious software and unusual network traffic.

Businesses can also use machine learning and AI to automate their security data analysis. A major part of threat monitoring is identifying patterns, trends, vulnerabilities, and anomalies in network traffic data. AI’s pattern recognition skills are extremely useful for this task. In fact, many of today’s most popular automated incident response platforms use some form of AI data analysis. 

Data is pulled from a business’s network and collected into a digital hub where the AI processes it. The algorithm can convert large amounts of security data into useful data sets and graphs, showing key takeaways and insights. Assigning an AI to take over preliminary data analysis processes allows IT security personnel to conduct threat monitoring and network management tasks more efficiently.

AI is even useful in the aftermath of a cyber incident. Security personnel can use AI to quickly identify and analyze security information, such as log data and attacker activity. This will speed up the recovery process following a cyber attack. 

SOAR Tools and Methodology

In addition to identifying threats, businesses can automate responses to cyber incidents. This is the goal of Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR). SOAR tools allow businesses to set standard, automated responses to cyber incidents. 

SOAR focuses on what happens after security personnel are notified about potential threats. It gives IT security teams additional automation tools they can use to handle low-level threats. That way, security personnel can concentrate their efforts on advanced threats. 

One example of a modern SOAR tool is Microsoft Sentinel, which uses automated “playbooks” to automate threat responses. IT security teams can build their own rulebook of desired responses to certain threats. From that point on, they won’t need to worry about taking manual action for specific types of threats. The SOAR tool will receive the threat notifications and automatically handle everything.

Benefits of Automated Incident Response

Automated incident response can be the perfect solution to combating the rising threat of ransomware. There are a few key reasons businesses should consider adopting it.

Minimized Cyber Incident Damage

One of the main benefits of automated incident response tools is a more immediate reaction to digital threats. Depending on the type of automated tools a business uses, they may be able to detect threats sooner and with a faster turnaround time. 

For instance, a business might have AI network monitoring tools in place. The AI has been trained to identify signs of suspicious activity, such as abnormal login IP addresses or unusual file access requests. It can monitor the network for this kind of activity around the clock, so it will detect potential threats right away. As soon as suspicious activity is detected, security personnel will be automatically notified. 

This system minimizes the potential amount of damage a hacker can do. If hackers manage to get into a business’s network, they may only have a few seconds before they’re stopped. A hacker can do significantly less in 60 seconds compared to hours or days. 

More Efficient Use of Time and Resources

Manually monitoring network activity can be complex and time-consuming. Even with a large IT security team, manual threat monitoring is a very involved process. Security personnel have to research and track intelligence, news and, emerging threats. They have to watch network traffic and analyze data whenever possible. 

Manual network monitoring is ultimately limited by the time and resources IT personnel are reasonably capable of providing. For most companies, it’s not feasible to have someone manually watch network traffic 24/7. It would quickly get expensive and be an inefficient use of valuable cybersecurity personnel. As of 2022, there is a shortage of 3.4 million cybersecurity employees, so businesses must make efficient use of the employees they have. 

Automated incident response allows smaller IT security teams to be more effective. Minimizing the number of manual tasks they have to do allows employees to put more effort into the most important tasks. This results in more resilient network security and maximizes the value of businesses’ investments in employees and security resources. 

Automating Ransomware Detection and Response

Ransomware and phishing attacks only continue to grow in popularity, but there are tools and strategies that can minimize the threat. Businesses can use automated incident response solutions like AI and SOAR tools to implement 24/7 monitoring and response. These technologies minimize the amount of manual input necessary for vital security measures. Businesses can automate cyber threat detection and response to stop ransomware in its tracks.

Zac Amos
Zac Amos - Features Editor, ReHack
Zac Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he writes about all things tech-related, from cybersecurity to AI to IoT.
Zac Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he writes about all things tech-related, from cybersecurity to AI to IoT.