Detect & Address the Top 10 MITRE ATT&CK Techniques for Ransomware Using Policy Compliance

Akanksha Shrivastava

In cybersecurity, the battle against ransomware is a pivotal challenge for organizations worldwide. Attackers are consistently refining their methods, highlighting the critical need for businesses to remain proactive in their defense strategies. To effectively address this threat, it is essential for organizations to understand the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) commonly utilized by ransomware actors. A solid understanding of the top ten MITRE ATT&CK® techniques associated with ransomware serves as a valuable foundation for proactive defense measures. The MITRE ATT&CK framework provides an extensive guide to these techniques, empowering security teams to strengthen their systems. This article delves into the top ten ATT&CK techniques for ransomware, exploring how Qualys Policy Compliance (PC) can assist organizations in mitigating these risks.

MITRE ATT&CK Framework Overview: 

The MITRE ATT&CK (Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge) framework is a globally accessible repository of adversary tactics and techniques derived from real-world observations. This framework categorizes these techniques into a structured framework, aiding security teams in understanding the behaviors of attackers and enhancing defense strategies. By providing a detailed guide to the TTPs used by threat actors, the MITRE ATT&CK framework empowers organizations to strengthen their security posture and proactively defend against cyber threats.

Top Ten MITRE ATT&CK Techniques for Ransomware:

The Center for Threat-Informed Defense created a Top Ten ATT&CK Techniques list for ransomware. This list can serve as a starting point for prioritizing ATT&CK techniques when planning to defend against ransomware attacks.

  1. T1486 – Data Encrypted for Impact: Involves encrypting files on local and remote drives to render them inaccessible, with attackers demanding ransom for decryption keys.
  2. T1078 – Valid Accounts: Ransomware actors exploit legitimate credentials to move laterally across networks, gaining access to critical systems and data.
  3. T1566 – Phishing: Attackers leverage phishing emails, often containing infected attachments or links to download ransomware payloads.
  4. T1490 – Inhibit System Recovery: Prevents victims from recovering systems without paying ransom by deleting backups, disabling recovery options, or encrypting backup files.
  5. T1489 – Service Stop: Attackers halt or disable services on endpoints to evade detection or interfere with security solutions preventing ransomware execution.
  6. T1485 – Data Destruction: Threatening to release sensitive data unless the ransom is paid, coercing victims to prevent data exposure.
  7. T1491 – Defacement: Besides encrypting files, ransomware may modify system settings or display ransom notes to intimidate victims into paying.
  8. T1567 – Exfiltration Over C2 Channel: Some variants exfiltrate sensitive data before encryption, threatening publication if the ransom is unpaid.
  9. T1487 – Disk Structure Wipe: Rather than encrypting files, ransomware may wipe entire disk structures, rendering data irrecoverable without decryption keys.
  10. T1483 – Domain Trust Discovery: Exploring network trust relationships to target high-value systems or critical data repositories.

Leveraging Qualys Policy Compliance with MITRE ATT&CK Framework:

Qualys Policy Compliance aligns with the MITRE ATT&CK framework, focusing on vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. It provides organizations with a structured approach to assess, monitor, and improve security postures. By automating assessments, generating detailed reports, and offering remediation guidance, Qualys aids in identifying and addressing security gaps. This integration fosters a proactive defense, reducing the risk of cyber threats, ensuring compliance with industry standards, and enhancing overall security maturity.

Supporting the Top 10 MITRE ATT&CK Techniques for Ransomware

Qualys has recently introduced policy support for the top ten ransomware MITRE ATT&CK techniques in its Policy Compliance app. This addition offers controls specifically designed to bolster organizational defenses against ransomware threats on operating systems. Aligning policies with these targeted techniques allows organizations to take proactive steps in addressing vulnerabilities and misconfigurations frequently exploited by ransomware actors. By tailoring the policy compliance controls to focus on these key areas of risk, organizations can establish a robust security posture, thereby minimizing the impact of ransomware attacks on operating systems and ensuring the protection of critical data and infrastructure.

Qualys Policy Compliance offers over 1,000 policies, 22,000 controls, 400 technologies, and 100 regulations for compliance. For cybersecurity, it also helps you gain up to 81 percent coverage against MITRE ATT&CK tactics and techniques compared to only 53 percent with Vulnerability Management alone. Misconfigurations account for most security breaches. Now, you can simplify, expand, and automate compliance for the latest mandates while increasing your security hardening score to 79 percent compared to only 51 percent with other solutions.

Qualys Policy Compliance provides support for different in-scope operating systems, databases, web servers, devices, and so forth. It also simplifies and accelerates formal assessments, including the automatic generation of compliance reports. The ability to create custom dashboards and reports ensures an always audit-ready status should an auditor require something non-standard.

Ransomware attacks pose significant risks to organizations as they target crucial data and operations. Knowing the top ten MITRE ATT&CK techniques linked with ransomware helps organizations prepare to protect against these constantly changing threats. Using Qualys Policy Compliance can greatly strengthen an organization’s security stance, allowing for customized policies that detect and address ransomware activities. By taking a multi-layered approach that includes educating users, implementing strong security practices, and using advanced technologies aligned with the ATT&CK framework, organizations can safeguard their valuable data assets and stay proactive against ransomware threats.

Try Qualys Policy Compliance today to see how easy it is to battle ransomware by staying compliant with the Top 10 MITRE ATT&CK Techniques.

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