North Korean malicious cyber activities are responsible for ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure organizations.
Ransomware attacks are increasing and targeting critical infrastructure, including healthcare facilities.
The ransomware is being used to fund illicit activities by North Korean state-sponsored actors.
Organizations are encouraged to prepare for and mitigate ransomware incidents.
Victims of ransomware attacks are encouraged to report incidents to appropriate authorities, such as the FBI or CISA in the US, and NIS, KISA, and KNPA in South Korea.
The authors discourage paying ransoms as it may embolden adversaries to target additional organizations and fund illicit activities.
Microsegmentation is a crucial technique for protecting medical devices from ransomware attacks and limiting lateral movement in the network, as highlighted in a recent report. By dividing a network into smaller segments, this technique can prevent the spread of malware or unauthorized access, ensuring the security of medical devices in critical environments such as hospitals. As medical device security becomes increasingly important in the healthcare industry, techniques such as microsegmentation can play a critical role in safeguarding patient privacy and safety.
The report provides a number of recommendations for organizations to prepare for and mitigate ransomware incidents. These include maintaining isolated backups of data, creating and exercising a cyber incident response plan, regularly updating software and operating systems, securing and monitoring potentially risky services, implementing a user training program, requiring strong passwords and phishing-resistant multifactor authentication, and regularly updating antivirus and antimalware software.
In addition, the report recommends that organizations scan backups and follow incident response best practices in the event of a ransomware attack. It is also important for organizations to report incidents to the appropriate authorities, including the FBI and CISA, and to seek assistance from other cybersecurity authorities.
Summary recommendations from this report
Maintain isolated backups of data, regularly test backup and restoration, and ensure all backup data is encrypted, immutable, and covers the entire organization’s data infrastructure
Create, maintain, and exercise a basic cyber incident response plan and associated communications plan that includes response procedures for a ransomware incident, and ensure the notification procedures adhere to applicable laws
Install updates for operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as they are released, and regularly check for software updates and end-of-life notifications
If using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or other potentially risky services, secure and monitor them closely, limit access to resources over internal networks, and use a VPN or virtual desktop infrastructure to authenticate and secure the connection
Implement a user training program and phishing exercises to raise awareness among users about the risks of visiting websites, clicking on links, and opening attachments
Require phishing-resistant multifactor authentication (MFA) for as many services as possible, particularly for webmail, VPNs, accounts that access critical systems, and privileged accounts that manage backups
Use strong passwords and avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts
Require administrator credentials to install software and audit user accounts with administrative or elevated privileges
Install and regularly update antivirus and antimalware software on all hosts
Only use secure networks and consider installing and using a VPN
Consider adding an email banner to messages coming from outside the organization indicating that they are higher risk messages
Consider participating in the Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS) program
If a ransomware incident occurs, follow the organization's ransomware response checklist, scan backups, and report incidents to appropriate authorities
Apply incident response best practices found in the joint Cybersecurity Advisory, Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity.
The report highlights the need for organizations to take proactive measures to protect themselves from ransomware attacks, especially in the critical infrastructure and medical device sectors. Microsegmentation is a key technique that can help limit the spread of malware and protect medical devices in hospitals. Network and security IT professionals working in hospitals in the United States are encouraged to review the report and implement the recommended best practices to help protect their organizations and patients.
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