A Better Line of Defence: How To Safeguard Against Ransomware Attacks

In 2021, ransomware attacks surged dramatically, witnessing a 105% increase to 623.3 million incidents worldwide

This escalation, partly fueled by the challenges of adapting to remote work, has further intensified with evolving cybercriminal tactics. Most notably in Canada, Lockbit, a ransomware group with Russian ties, was responsible for a significant portion of these incidents. As reported by Canada’s Cyber Intelligence Agency, “In 2022, LockBit was responsible for 22 percent of attributed ransomware incidents in Canada and an estimated 44 percent of global incidents." These sophisticated threats result in financial losses and substantial damage to brand reputation.

Implementing robust Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions with enhanced cloud security measures has become essential. Organizations must navigate digital threats with effective cybersecurity strategies to protect their assets and maintain their reputation.

Recent Ransomware Attacks: A Wake-Up Call

Canadian cyber threats recently plagued small and large organizations with alarming ransomware attacks. No organization was safe, from public libraries to health insurers, including a significant attack involving a multimillion-dollar ransom demand against Southwestern Ontario hospitals. These incidents, especially the attack by the Daixin Team, serve as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities present in current systems and highlight a disturbing trend of escalating cyber threats. The impact of these attacks goes beyond service disruption, as they compromise sensitive data and exert immense financial pressure on the targeted organizations.

How Cloud Security Can Mitigate Ransomware Devastation

While cyber threats are inevitable, the severity of their impact can be significantly diminished with the right cloud solution in place.

A Sparkrock 365 customer who previously experienced a cyberattack made the decision to upgrade their ERP system to the cloud following the unfortunate incident. This customer's experience demonstrates the growing popularity of adopting cloud technology as a means to safeguard data from the impact of cyberattacks. Organizations who handle sensitive data such as payment processing and member information can benefit from an enhanced level of security in order to maintain operational resilience in the face of evolving cyber threats.

Sparkrock 365 operates on Microsoft's best-in-class cloud platform with advanced security features such as:

  • multi-factor authentication, 
  • regular security audits, and 
  • sophisticated network security.

These features ensure that vulnerabilities are promptly addressed. 

Customers using Sparkrock 365 benefit from regular software updates and patches, coupled with strong data encryption and employee access controls which fortify their systems against ransomware attacks.

Moreover, Sparkrock's disaster recovery and data backup protocols demonstrate a readiness to respond during a security breach, reducing potential downtime and data loss. This level of security is crucial for organizations seeking to protect their digital assets and maintain operational continuity in the aftermath of cyber threats.

Uncovering the Top 11 Vulnerabilities in Today's Cloud-Based ERP Systems

What makes today's systems vulnerable to ransomware attacks?

The shift from on-premise solutions to cloud computing offers numerous benefits, but it also presents new vulnerabilities, particularly to ransomware attacks. The modern cybersecurity landscape demands more than just a move to the cloud; it requires the careful selection of a solution with robust security measures.

All organizations should conduct thorough research on their chosen providers. A well-protected cloud infrastructure is essential to guard against cyber threats effectively, ensuring the safety and integrity of organizational data and operations. While adopting this type of technology brings many advantages, prioritizing cybersecurity in this transition is paramount.

Understanding the 'why' behind these attacks is crucial for developing effective defences:

  1. Outdated or Unpatched Software

Systems running outdated software are often vulnerable to attacks as they may not have the latest security patches. Hackers exploit these known vulnerabilities.

  1. Passwords and Poor Authentication Practices

Weak or reused passwords make it easier for attackers to gain unauthorized access. A lack of multi-factor authentication can also be a significant weakness.

  1. Insufficient Network Security

Inadequate firewalls, absence of network segmentation, and insufficient monitoring can open networks to intrusions.

  1. Lack of Employee Training

Human error remains a significant risk factor. Employees unaware of phishing schemes or proper security protocols can inadvertently provide attackers with access.

  1. Inadequate Data Encryption

Data that is not adequately locked can be easily accessed and exploited if the system is breached.

  1. Inefficient Incident Response Plans

Lack of a robust incident response plan can worsen the consequences of a cyberattack, leading to lengthy system downtime and increased data loss.

  1. Third-party and Supply Chain Risks

Many organizations integrate different tools into their ERP as a means of customization. Unfortunately, this lack of vetting brings vulnerabilities in third-party vendors' software or systems that can be exploited to access the primary data source.

  1. Insider Threats

Malicious or negligent actions by employees can pose significant risks.

  1. Physical Security Breaches

Inadequate physical security of hardware and data centers can lead to unauthorized access.

  1. Lack of Regular Security Audits and Assessments

Failing to assess and update security protocols regularly can expose systems to new types of attacks.

  1. Remote Access Vulnerabilities

With the increase in remote work, vulnerabilities associated with remote network access have become more prominent.

Stay One Step Ahead of Ransomware Attacks with Advanced Cloud Security

While some might consider strengthening their on-premise systems as a response to these threats, this approach won't scale in today's highly interconnected and digitally driven world. Rather, it's imperative to pivot towards advanced cloud security measures, which provide dynamic and continually updated defences. This shift not only aligns with the evolving nature of cyber threats but also ensures that the inherent advantages of cloud computing, such as flexibility and accessibility, are fully realized without compromising on security

Cloud-based ERP solutions are integral to an organization’s day-to-day in managing critical processes within:

  • Finance, 
  • Human Resources, and 
  • Payroll. 

With this type of implementation, organizations benefit from scalability and efficiency.

Implementing ERP Cloud Solutions with Enhanced Security

Sparkrock 365 address vulnerabilities in several key ways, enhancing security and reducing risks:

1. Regular Software Updates and Patches

This practice is crucial for security, as seen in the WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017, which impacted computers in over 150 countries. 

The vulnerability exploited in this attack was the absence of the latest Microsoft security patch. Organizations that had updated their systems avoided this widespread breach, highlighting the importance of timely software updates in maintaining security. Customers of Sparkrock receive regular maintenance updates and critical releases are pushed out to them automatically so they have one less thing to worry about.

2. Advanced Authentication Protocols

Sparkrock 365 incorporates powerful authentication methods, including multi-factor authentication (MFA), which adds an extra layer of security beyond just passwords.

Microsoft highly recommends using MFA, a security process where you use two or more methods to verify your identity when logging in. Most hacking attempts (over 97%) take advantage of older, less secure ways of signing in that don't use MFA. 

Since October 2022, Microsoft has been updating its systems to remove these older methods and encourage everyone to use more secure sign-in options like MFA. Alex Weinert, a top security expert at Microsoft, highlights that using MFA can significantly reduce the chances of hacked accounts.

3. Robust Network Security

Sparkrock 365 offers advanced network security features from Microsoft Azure. This includes firewalls, intrusion detection, prevention systems, and regular security monitoring, helping to safeguard against unauthorized access.

Azure provides the underlying cloud infrastructure and services (like computing power, storage, and networking) that enable the Sparkrock 365 cloud to operate efficiently and securely.

4. Data Encryption

Microsoft 365 uses various encryption methods to keep data secure, whether sitting in storage (at rest) or being sent somewhere (in transit). Just like using different types of locks for different purposes, Microsoft 365 applies distinct encryption methods depending on the data's status.

Sparkrock 365's ERP solutions benefit from Microsoft's cloud security, which means the system is encrypted in transit and at rest, too. Even if data is intercepted, it remains unreadable and secure.

5. Employee Access Controls

Sparkrock's system allows for detailed control over who can access what data and features. 

Controlling accessibility reduces the risk of insider threats and ensures that employees only have access to the information necessary for their roles.

For example, users can enter invoices but not approve them, and approval limits are set based on authority levels to prevent conflicts of interest. For instance, a Vice President entering an invoice cannot approve it, ensuring checks and balances throughout the system.

The effective management of these controls, often a joint effort between the IT and finance departments, exemplifies Sparkrock's commitment to robust security and compliance through well-structured internal controls.

7. Disaster Recovery and Data Backups

Sparkrock's cloud security has vigorous disaster recovery and data backup protocols. In the event of an attack, the ERP system can be restored more quickly, reducing downtime and data loss. 

Leveraging Microsoft 365 Backup, Sparkrock 365 expedites the data recovery process significantly. This new architecture within Microsoft 365 allows for backups and recovery times that are over 20 times faster than traditional methods. This efficient backup system enhances business continuity in the face of threats and streamlines the management and security of data within the familiar Microsoft environment.

8. Physical Security of Data Centers,

The physical security of Sparkrock's data centers, leveraging Microsoft's infrastructure, is exceptionally rigorous. 

These facilities have multiple layers of security, including:

  • perimeter defences, 
  • controlled access points, and 
  • continuous surveillance. 

Essential areas, such as server cages and entry points, are closely monitored with integrated security systems and round-the-clock video surveillance, ensuring vigilant oversight. Access is strictly limited to necessary personnel, with stringent controls. This comprehensive security framework effectively minimizes the risk of physical breaches, safeguarding the servers that host Sparkrock's cloud services.

9. Compliance with Standards and Regulations

Sparkrock's cloud ERP, leveraging Microsoft's infrastructure, adheres to the ISO/IEC 27000 family of global standards, ensuring a comprehensive framework for information security. 

Through Microsoft's certification, Sparkrock's ERP aligns with rigorous procedures and best practices for information security management. This certification validates the robustness of security controls and compliance with regulatory and legal requirements, reflecting Sparkrock's commitment to maintaining high security and data protection levels.

10. End-User Training and Support

Users need ongoing training for cloud-based systems to remain current and understand the functionality and best practices.

Sparkrock provides training and resources to help end-users understand security, further mitigating the risk of human error.

In addition to the above, Sparkrock encourages regular security audits to identify and address potential vulnerabilities, ensuring ongoing protection against new threats. 

System audits have become increasingly prevalent due to the rising number of security breaches and unauthorized system access. It's a proactive measure, and should be a standard part of routine auditing processes.

Protect Your Data With Sparkrock 365

Drawing from Microsoft's overarching security infrastructure, which is akin to government-level security, Sparkrock 365 benefits from a system that can detect breaches within seconds and is constantly monitored and protected. This comprehensive approach to security helps protect against the types of vulnerabilities exposed in incidents like the attack on Ontario hospitals.

An environment inaccessible to unauthorized users and even customers ensures a cloud security posture that is resilient, dynamic, and attuned to the specific challenges of modern cyber threats.

Many organizations rely on cloud-based ERP solutions like Sparkrock 365 to ensure a reliable, compliant solution that becomes indispensable with cyber risks.

Interested in enhancing your organization's security with Sparkrock 365's ERP cloud solutions? Schedule a call with us today and explore how Sparkrock 365 can fortify your digital defences.

Are you ready to spark change?

With Sparkrock 365, you'll have the tools to manage your finances and workforce more efficiently so you can focus on what you do best. Go from paper-based processes to intelligent online workflows, and access the data you need to make a real difference in your community.
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