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Volume 53, Issue 2
Advanced attacks are using a variety of methods to steal data; here’s how to keep your practice up-to-date.
Ransomware attacks are only increasing in complexity and becoming more efficient at exploiting network and system vulnerabilities, leaving dental offices with a significant clean-up bill. Modern firewalls are highly effective at defending against these types of attacks, but they need to be given the chance to do their job.
How ransomware attacks spread
2018 has seen ransomware trending away from brute force, large scale attacks to focused, planned and manually executed attacks that are much harder to detect and block. Let’s take a look at how the different forms of ransomware operate and what your office should be doing to minimize vulnerability.
Targeted ransomware attacks
As the name suggests, targeted ransomware attackers have done their homework - they know who you are, they know your practice, if you are capable of paying the ransom as well as how much you might be willing to pay. They have gained access to your network and can see and control the damage they are causing. If they hit a roadblock, they work around it again and again until they succeed. They don’t go after difficult targets with advanced security - why bother?
There is enough low-hanging fruit for them to stay in business. Variants including Dharma, SamSam and BitPaymer are some of the most well-known and most successful types of targeted ransomware. While these examples vary in their scope and complexity, they share many commonalities in their methods.
A typical targeted ransomware attack looks like this:
Best practices for firewall and network configuration
It’s important to keep in mind that IPS, sandboxing and all other protection the firewall provides is only effective against traffic that is actually traversing the firewall and where suitable enforcement and protection policies are being applied to the firewall rules governing that traffic. So, with that in mind, follow these best practices for preventing the spread of worm-like attacks on your network:
If dental offices are unfamiliar with how to properly configure their firewall, work with a competent IT provider who is also familiar with HIPAA rules and regulations.