Skyline Advisor Pro Proactive Findings – February Edition

This post was originally published on this site

Tweet VMware Skyline releases new Proactive Findings every month. Findings are prioritized by trending issues in VMware Support, issues raised through Post Escalation review, Security vulnerabilities, and issues raised from VMware engineering, and customers. For the month of January, we released 20 new Findings. Of these, there are 16 Findings based on trending issues, 2 … Continued

The post Skyline Advisor Pro Proactive Findings – February Edition appeared first on VMware Support Insider.

VMware Skyline Log Assist Support for SDDC Manager

This post was originally published on this site
SDDC Log Assist Workflow

Tweet As many of you know, Log Assist, is one of VMware Skyline’s most popular features, consistently ranking high among other core functionality, including Upgrade Recommendations, TAM Reports, and API Support. And it’s popular for a good reason. Log Assist Skyline streamlines the process of manually gathering and uploading a support bundle used by VMware … Continued

The post VMware Skyline Log Assist Support for SDDC Manager appeared first on VMware Support Insider.

Skyline Insights API – Creating a Ticket in ServiceNow

This post was originally published on this site

Tweet We have been asked on numerous occasions to show a demo of using the Skyline Insights API to send Proactive Findings data to Service Now.   Before we can show this, please make sure you have read this article detailing how to get the findings to ensure you understand the basics.  It is also a … Continued

The post Skyline Insights API – Creating a Ticket in ServiceNow appeared first on VMware Support Insider.

AA22-057A: Destructive Malware Targeting Organizations in Ukraine

This post was originally published on this site

Original release date: February 26, 2022


Actions to Take Today:
• Set antivirus and antimalware programs to conduct regular scans.
• Enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching end users.
• Filter network traffic.
• Update software.
• Require multifactor authentication.

Leading up to Russia’s unprovoked attack against Ukraine, threat actors deployed destructive malware against organizations in Ukraine to destroy computer systems and render them inoperable. 

  • On January 15, 2022, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) disclosed that malware, known as WhisperGate, was being used to target organizations in Ukraine. According to Microsoft, WhisperGate is intended to be destructive and is designed to render targeted devices inoperable. 
  • On February 23, 2022, several cybersecurity researchers disclosed that malware known as HermeticWiper was being used against organizations in Ukraine. According to SentinelLabs, the malware targets Windows devices, manipulating the master boot record, which results in subsequent boot failure. 

Destructive malware can present a direct threat to an organization’s daily operations, impacting the availability of critical assets and data. Further disruptive cyberattacks against organizations in Ukraine are likely to occur and may unintentionally spill over to organizations in other countries. Organizations should increase vigilance and evaluate their capabilities encompassing planning, preparation, detection, and response for such an event. 

This joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) between the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provides information on WhisperGate and HermeticWiper malware as well as open-source indicators of compromise (IOCs) for organizations to detect and prevent the malware. Additionally, this joint CSA provides recommended guidance and considerations for organizations to address as part of network architecture, security baseline, continuous monitoring, and incident response practices.

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

Technical Details

Threat actors have deployed destructive malware, including both WhisperGate and HermeticWiper, against organizations in Ukraine to destroy computer systems and render them inoperable. Listed below are high-level summaries of campaigns employing the malware. CISA recommends organizations review the resources listed below for more in-depth analysis and see the Mitigation section for best practices on handling destructive malware.   

On January 15, 2022, Microsoft announced the identification of a sophisticated malware operation targeting multiple organizations in Ukraine. The malware, known as WhisperGate, has two stages that corrupts a system’s master boot record, displays a fake ransomware note, and encrypts files based on certain file extensions. Note: although a ransomware message is displayed during the attack, Microsoft highlighted that the targeted data is destroyed, and is not recoverable even if a ransom is paid. See Microsoft’s blog on Destructive malware targeting Ukrainian organizations for more information and see the IOCs in table 1. 

Table 1: IOCs associated with WhisperGate

Name File Category File Hash Source
WhisperGate   stage1.exe 


Microsoft MSTIC  
WhisperGate stage2.exe


Microsoft MSTIC


On February 23, 2022, cybersecurity researchers disclosed that malware known as HermeticWiper was being used against organizations in Ukraine. According to SentinelLabs, the malware targets Windows devices, manipulating the master boot record and resulting in subsequent boot failure. Note: according to Broadcom, “[HermeticWiper] has some similarities to the earlier WhisperGate wiper attacks against Ukraine, where the wiper was disguised as ransomware.” See the following resources for more information and see the IOCs in table 2 below. 

Table 2: IOCs associated with HermeticWiper

Name File Category File Hash Source
Win32/KillDisk.NCV Trojan 912342F1C840A42F6B74132F8A7C4FFE7D40FB77
ESET research
HermeticWiper Win32 EXE 912342f1c840a42f6b74132f8a7c4ffe7d40fb77


HermeticWiper Win32 EXE 61b25d11392172e587d8da3045812a66c3385451


RCDATA_DRV_X64 ms-compressed a952e288a1ead66490b3275a807f52e5


RCDATA_DRV_X86 ms-compressed 231b3385ac17e41c5bb1b1fcb59599c4


RCDATA_DRV_XP_X64 ms-compressed 095a1678021b034903c85dd5acb447ad


RCDATA_DRV_XP_X86  ms-compressed eb845b7a16ed82bd248e395d9852f467


Trojan.Killdisk Trojan.Killdisk  1bc44eef75779e3ca1eefb8ff5a64807dbc942b1e4a2672d77b9f6928d292591 Symantec Threat Hunter Team
Trojan.Killdisk Trojan.Killdisk 0385eeab00e946a302b24a91dea4187c1210597b8e17cd9e2230450f5ece21da  Symantec Threat Hunter Team
Trojan.Killdisk Trojan.Killdisk a64c3e0522fad787b95bfb6a30c3aed1b5786e69e88e023c062ec7e5cebf4d3e Symantec Threat Hunter Team
Ransomware Trojan.Killdisk 4dc13bb83a16d4ff9865a51b3e4d24112327c526c1392e14d56f20d6f4eaf382 Symantec Threat Hunter Team


Best Practices for Handling Destructive Malware

As previously noted above, destructive malware can present a direct threat to an organization’s daily operations, impacting the availability of critical assets and data. Organizations should increase vigilance and evaluate their capabilities, encompassing planning, preparation, detection, and response, for such an event. This section is focused on the threat of malware using enterprise-scale distributed propagation methods and provides recommended guidance and considerations for an organization to address as part of their network architecture, security baseline, continuous monitoring, and incident response practices. 

CISA and the FBI urge all organizations to implement the following recommendations to increase their cyber resilience against this threat.

Potential Distribution Vectors

Destructive malware may use popular communication tools to spread, including worms sent through email and instant messages, Trojan horses dropped from websites, and virus-infected files downloaded from peer-to-peer connections. Malware seeks to exploit existing vulnerabilities on systems for quiet and easy access.

The malware has the capability to target a large scope of systems and can execute across multiple systems throughout a network. As a result, it is important for organizations to assess their environment for atypical channels for malware delivery and/or propagation throughout their systems. Systems to assess include:

  • Enterprise applications – particularly those that have the capability to directly interface with and impact multiple hosts and endpoints. Common examples include:
    • Patch management systems,
    • Asset management systems,
    • Remote assistance software (typically used by the corporate help desk),
    • Antivirus (AV) software,
    • Systems assigned to system and network administrative personnel,
    • Centralized backup servers, and
    • Centralized file shares.

While not only applicable to malware, threat actors could compromise additional resources to impact the availability of critical data and applications. Common examples include:

  • Centralized storage devices
    • Potential risk – direct access to partitions and data warehouses.
  • Network devices
    • Potential risk – capability to inject false routes within the routing table, delete specific routes from the routing table, remove/modify, configuration attributes, or destroy firmware or system binaries—which could isolate or degrade availability of critical network resources.

Best Practices and Planning Strategies

Common strategies can be followed to strengthen an organization’s resilience against destructive malware. Targeted assessment and enforcement of best practices should be employed for enterprise components susceptible to destructive malware.

Communication Flow
  • Ensure proper network segmentation.
  • Ensure that network-based access control lists (ACLs) are configured to permit server-to-host and host-to-host connectivity via the minimum scope of ports and protocols and that directional flows for connectivity are represented appropriately.
    • Communications flow paths should be fully defined, documented, and authorized.
  • Increase awareness of systems that can be used as a gateway to pivot (lateral movement) or directly connect to additional endpoints throughout the enterprise.
    • Ensure that these systems are contained within restrictive Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs), with additional segmentation and network access controls.
  • Ensure that centralized network and storage devices’ management interfaces reside on restrictive VLANs.
    • Layered access control, and
    • Device-level access control enforcement – restricting access from only pre-defined VLANs and trusted IP ranges.
Access Control
  • For enterprise systems that can directly interface with multiple endpoints:
    • Require multifactor authentication for interactive logons.
    • Ensure that authorized users are mapped to a specific subset of enterprise personnel.
      • If possible, the “Everyone,” “Domain Users,” or the “Authenticated Users” groups should not be permitted the capability to directly access or authenticate to these systems.
    • Ensure that unique domain accounts are used and documented for each enterprise application service.
      • Context of permissions assigned to these accounts should be fully documented and configured based upon the concept of least privilege.
      • Provides an enterprise with the capability to track and monitor specific actions correlating to an application’s assigned service account.
    • If possible, do not grant a service account with local or interactive logon permissions.
      • Service accounts should be explicitly denied permissions to access network shares and critical data locations.
    • Accounts that are used to authenticate to centralized enterprise application servers or devices should not contain elevated permissions on downstream systems and resources throughout the enterprise.
  • Continuously review centralized file share ACLs and assigned permissions.
    • Restrict Write/Modify/Full Control permissions when possible.
  • Audit and review security logs for anomalous references to enterprise-level administrative (privileged) and service accounts.
    • Failed logon attempts,
    • File share access, and
    • Interactive logons via a remote session.
  • Review network flow data for signs of anomalous activity, including:
    • Connections using ports that do not correlate to the standard communications flow associated with an application,
    • Activity correlating to port scanning or enumeration, and
    • Repeated connections using ports that can be used for command and control purposes.
  • Ensure that network devices log and audit all configuration changes.
    • Continually review network device configurations and rule sets to ensure that communications flows are restricted to the authorized subset of rules.
File Distribution
  • When deploying patches or AV signatures throughout an enterprise, stage the distributions to include a specific grouping of systems (staggered over a pre-defined period).
    • This action can minimize the overall impact in the event that an enterprise patch management or AV system is leveraged as a distribution vector for a malicious payload.
  • Monitor and assess the integrity of patches and AV signatures that are distributed throughout the enterprise.
    • Ensure updates are received only from trusted sources,
    • Perform file and data integrity checks, and
    • Monitor and audit – as related to the data that is distributed from an enterprise application.
System and Application Hardening
  • Ensure robust vulnerability management and patching practices are in place. 
    • CISA maintains a living catalog of known exploited vulnerabilities that carry significant risk to federal agencies as well as public and private sectors entities. In addition to thoroughly testing and implementing vendor patches in a timely—and, if possible, automated— manner, organizations should ensure patching of the vulnerabilities CISA includes in this catalog.
  • Ensure that the underlying operating system (OS) and dependencies (e.g., Internet Information Services [IIS], Apache, Structured Query Language [SQL]) supporting an application are configured and hardened based upon industry-standard best practice recommendations. Implement application-level security controls based on best practice guidance provided by the vendor. Common recommendations include:
    • Use role-based access control,
    • Prevent end-user capabilities to bypass application-level security controls,
      • For example, do not allow users to disable AV on local workstations.
    • Remove, or disable unnecessary or unused features or packages, and
    • Implement robust application logging and auditing.
Recovery and Reconstitution Planning

A business impact analysis (BIA) is a key component of contingency planning and preparation. The overall output of a BIA will provide an organization with two key components (as related to critical mission/business operations):

  • Characterization and classification of system components, and
  • Interdependencies.

Based upon the identification of an organization’s mission critical assets (and their associated interdependencies), in the event that an organization is impacted by destructive malware, recovery and reconstitution efforts should be considered.

To plan for this scenario, an organization should address the availability and accessibility for the following resources (and should include the scope of these items within incident response exercises and scenarios):

  • Comprehensive inventory of all mission critical systems and applications:
    • Versioning information,
    • System/application dependencies,
    • System partitioning/storage configuration and connectivity, and
    • Asset owners/points of contact.
  • Contact information for all essential personnel within the organization,
  • Secure communications channel for recovery teams,
  • Contact information for external organizational-dependent resources:
    • Communication providers,
    • Vendors (hardware/software), and
    • Outreach partners/external stakeholders
  • Service contract numbers – for engaging vendor support,
  • Organizational procurement points of contact,
  • Optical disc image (ISO)/image files for baseline restoration of critical systems and applications:
    • OS installation media,
    • Service packs/patches,
    • Firmware, and
    • Application software installation packages.
  • Licensing/activation keys for OS and dependent applications,
  • Enterprise network topology and architecture diagrams,
  • System and application documentation,
  • Hard copies of operational checklists and playbooks,
  • System and application configuration backup files,
  • Data backup files (full/differential),
  • System and application security baseline and hardening checklists/guidelines, and
  • System and application integrity test and acceptance checklists.
Incident Response

Victims of a destructive malware attacks should immediately focus on containment to reduce the scope of affected systems. Strategies for containment include:

  • Determining a vector common to all systems experiencing anomalous behavior (or having been rendered unavailable)—from which a malicious payload could have been delivered:
    • Centralized enterprise application,
    • Centralized file share (for which the identified systems were mapped or had access),
    • Privileged user account common to the identified systems,
    • Network segment or boundary, and
    • Common Domain Name System (DNS) server for name resolution.
  • Based upon the determination of a likely distribution vector, additional mitigation controls can be enforced to further minimize impact:
    • Implement network-based ACLs to deny the identified application(s) the capability to directly communicate with additional systems,
      • Provides an immediate capability to isolate and sandbox specific systems or resources.
    • Implement null network routes for specific IP addresses (or IP ranges) from which the payload may be distributed,
      • An organization’s internal DNS can also be leveraged for this task, as a null pointer record could be added within a DNS zone for an identified server or application.
    • Readily disable access for suspected user or service account(s),
    • For suspect file shares (which may be hosting the infection vector), remove access or disable the share path from being accessed by additional systems, and
    • Be prepared to, if necessary, reset all passwords and tickets within directories (e.g., changing golden/silver tickets). 

As related to incident response and incident handling, organizations are encouraged to report incidents to the FBI and CISA (see the Contact section below) and to preserve forensic data for use in internal investigation of the incident or for possible law enforcement purposes. See Technical Approaches to Uncovering and Remediating Malicious Activity for more information.

Contact Information

To report suspicious or criminal activity related to information found in this Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, contact your local FBI field office at, or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch (CyWatch) at (855) 292-3937 or by email at When available, please include the following information regarding the incident: date, time, and location of the incident; type of activity; number of people affected; type of equipment used for the activity; the name of the submitting company or organization; and a designated point of contact. To request incident response resources or technical assistance related to these threats, contact CISA at



  • February 26, 2022: Initial Revision

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Get Your VMware Skyline Advisor Pro Technologist Certification Today!

This post was originally published on this site

Tweet Are you a technologist who wants to demonstrate your expertise on VMware Skyline Advisor Pro? Take the VMware Skyline Advisor Pro Technologist Course, get your certification badge, and display it on LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook! The VMware Skyline Advisor Pro Technologist badge validates skills for supporting, managing, and planning environments through proactive monitoring … Continued

The post Get Your VMware Skyline Advisor Pro Technologist Certification Today! appeared first on VMware Support Insider.

AA22-040A: 2021 Trends Show Increased Globalized Threat of Ransomware

This post was originally published on this site

Original release date: February 9, 2022


Immediate Actions You Can Take Now to Protect Against Ransomware: • Update your operating system and software.
• Implement user training and phishing exercises to raise awareness about the risk of suspicious links and attachments.
• If you use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), secure and monitor it.
• Make an offline backup of your data.
• Use multifactor authentication (MFA).

In 2021, cybersecurity authorities in the United States,[1][2][3] Australia,[4] and the United Kingdom[5] observed an increase in sophisticated, high-impact ransomware incidents against critical infrastructure organizations globally. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the National Security Agency (NSA) observed incidents involving ransomware against 14 of the 16 U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the Defense Industrial Base, Emergency Services, Food and Agriculture, Government Facilities, and Information Technology Sectors. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) observed continued ransomware targeting of Australian critical infrastructure entities, including in the Healthcare and Medical, Financial Services and Markets, Higher Education and Research, and Energy Sectors. The United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK) recognizes ransomware as the biggest cyber threat facing the United Kingdom. Education is one of the top UK sectors targeted by ransomware actors, but the NCSC-UK has also seen attacks targeting businesses, charities, the legal profession, and public services in the Local Government and Health Sectors.

Ransomware tactics and techniques continued to evolve in 2021, which demonstrates ransomware threat actors’ growing technological sophistication and an increased ransomware threat to organizations globally.

This joint Cybersecurity Advisory—authored by cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom—provides observed behaviors and trends as well as mitigation recommendations to help network defenders reduce their risk of compromise by ransomware.

Click here for a PDF version of this report.

Technical Details

Cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom observed the following behaviors and trends among cyber criminals in 2021:

  • Gaining access to networks via phishing, stolen Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP) credentials or brute force, and exploiting vulnerabilities. Phishing emails, RDP exploitation, and exploitation of software vulnerabilities remained the top three initial infection vectors for ransomware incidents in 2021. Once a ransomware threat actor has gained code execution on a device or network access, they can deploy ransomware. Note: these infection vectors likely remain popular because of the increased use of remote work and schooling starting in 2020 and continuing through 2021. This increase expanded the remote attack surface and left network defenders struggling to keep pace with routine software patching.
  • Using cybercriminal services-for-hire. The market for ransomware became increasingly “professional” in 2021, and the criminal business model of ransomware is now well established. In addition to their increased use of ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS), ransomware threat actors employed independent services to negotiate payments, assist victims with making payments, and arbitrate payment disputes between themselves and other cyber criminals. NCSC-UK observed that some ransomware threat actors offered their victims the services of a 24/7 help center to expedite ransom payment and restoration of encrypted systems or data.

Note: cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom assess that if the ransomware criminal business model continues to yield financial returns for ransomware actors, ransomware incidents will become more frequent. Every time a ransom is paid, it confirms the viability and financial attractiveness of the ransomware criminal business model. Additionally, cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom note that the criminal business model often complicates attribution because there are complex networks of developers, affiliates, and freelancers; it is often difficult to identify conclusively the actors behind a ransomware incident.

  • Sharing victim information. Eurasian ransomware groups have shared victim information with each other, diversifying the threat to targeted organizations. For example, after announcing its shutdown, the BlackMatter ransomware group transferred its existing victims to infrastructure owned by another group, known as Lockbit 2.0. In October 2021, Conti ransomware actors began selling access to victims’ networks, enabling follow-on attacks by other cyber threat actors.
  • Shifting away from “big-game” hunting in the United States. 
    • In the first half of 2021, cybersecurity authorities in the United States and Australia observed ransomware threat actors targeting “big game” organizations—i.e., perceived high-value organizations and/or those that provide critical services—in several high-profile incidents. These victims included Colonial Pipeline Company, JBS Foods, and Kaseya Limited. However, ransomware groups suffered disruptions from U.S. authorities in mid-2021. Subsequently, the FBI observed some ransomware threat actors redirecting ransomware efforts away from “big-game” and toward mid-sized victims to reduce scrutiny. 
    • The ACSC observed ransomware continuing to target Australian organizations of all sizes, including critical services and “big game,” throughout 2021. 
    • NCSC-UK observed targeting of UK organizations of all sizes throughout the year, with some “big game” victims. Overall victims included businesses, charities, the legal profession, and public services in the Education, Local Government, and Health Sectors.
  • Diversifying approaches to extorting money. After encrypting victim networks, ransomware threat actors increasingly used “triple extortion” by threatening to (1) publicly release stolen sensitive information, (2) disrupt the victim’s internet access, and/or (3) inform the victim’s partners, shareholders, or suppliers about the incident. The ACSC continued to observe “double extortion” incidents in which a threat actor uses a combination of encryption and data theft to pressure victims to pay ransom demands. 

Ransomware groups have increased their impact by:

  • Targeting the cloud. Ransomware developers targeted cloud infrastructures to exploit known vulnerabilities in cloud applications, virtual machine software, and virtual machine orchestration software. Ransomware threat actors also targeted cloud accounts, cloud application programming interfaces (APIs), and data backup and storage systems to deny access to cloud resources and encrypt data. In addition to exploiting weaknesses to gain direct access, threat actors sometimes reach cloud storage systems by compromising local (on-premises) devices and moving laterally to the cloud systems. Ransomware threat actors have also targeted cloud service providers to encrypt large amounts of customer data.
  • Targeting managed service providers. Ransomware threat actors have targeted managed service providers (MSPs). MSPs have widespread and trusted accesses into client organizations. By compromising an MSP, a ransomware threat actor could access multiple victims through one initial compromise. Cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom assess there will be an increase in ransomware incidents where threat actors target MSPs to reach their clients.
  • Attacking industrial processes. Although most ransomware incidents against critical infrastructure affect business information and technology systems, the FBI observed that several ransomware groups have developed code designed to stop critical infrastructure or industrial processes.
  • Attacking the software supply chain. Globally, in 2021, ransomware threat actors targeted software supply chain entities to subsequently compromise and extort their customers. Targeting software supply chains allows ransomware threat actors to increase the scale of their attacks by accessing multiple victims through a single initial compromise. 
  • Targeting organizations on holidays and weekends. The FBI and CISA observed cybercriminals conducting increasingly impactful attacks against U.S. entities on holidays and weekends throughout 2021. Ransomware threat actors may view holidays and weekends—when offices are normally closed—as attractive timeframes, as there are fewer network defenders and IT support personnel at victim organizations. For more information, see joint FBI-CISA Cybersecurity Advisory, Ransomware Awareness for Holidays and Weekends.


Cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom recommend network defenders apply the following mitigations to reduce the likelihood and impact of ransomware incidents:

  • Keep all operating systems and software up to date. Timely patching is one of the most efficient and cost-effective steps an organization can take to minimize its exposure to cybersecurity threats. Regularly check for software updates and end of life (EOL) notifications, and prioritize patching known exploited vulnerabilities. In cloud environments, ensure that virtual machines, serverless applications, and third-party libraries are also patched regularly, as doing so is usually the customer’s responsibility. Automate software security scanning and testing when possible. Consider upgrading hardware and software, as necessary, to take advantage of vendor-provided virtualization and security capabilities.
  • If you use RDP or other potentially risky services, secure and monitor them closely.
    • Limit access to resources over internal networks, especially by restricting RDP and using virtual desktop infrastructure. After assessing risks, if RDP is deemed operationally necessary, restrict the originating sources and require MFA to mitigate credential theft and reuse. If RDP must be available externally, use a virtual private network (VPN), virtual desktop infrastructure, or other means to authenticate and secure the connection before allowing RDP to connect to internal devices. Monitor remote access/RDP logs, enforce account lockouts after a specified number of attempts to block brute force campaigns, log RDP login attempts, and disable unused remote access/RDP ports.
    • Ensure devices are properly configured and that security features are enabled. Disable ports and protocols that are not being used for a business purpose (e.g., RDP Transmission Control Protocol Port 3389). 
    • Restrict Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol within the network to only access servers that are necessary, and remove or disable outdated versions of SMB (i.e., SMB version 1). Threat actors use SMB to propagate malware across organizations.
    • Review the security posture of third-party vendors and those interconnected with your organization. Ensure all connections between third-party vendors and outside software or hardware are monitored and reviewed for suspicious activity.
    • Implement listing policies for applications and remote access that only allow systems to execute known and permitted programs under an established.
    • Open document readers in protected viewing modes to help prevent active content from running.
  • Implement a user training program and phishing exercises to raise awareness among users about the risks of visiting suspicious websites, clicking on suspicious links, and opening suspicious attachments. Reinforce the appropriate user response to phishing and spearphishing emails. 
  • Require MFA for as many services as possible—particularly for webmail, VPNs, accounts that access critical systems, and privileged accounts that manage backups. 
  • Require all accounts with password logins (e.g., service account, admin accounts, and domain admin accounts) to have strong, unique passwords. Passwords should not be reused across multiple accounts or stored on the system where an adversary may have access. Note: devices with local admin accounts should implement a password policy, possibly using a password management solution (e.g., Local Administrator Password Solution [LAPS]), that requires strong, unique passwords for each admin account.
  • If using Linux, use a Linux security module (such as SELinux, AppArmor, or SecComp) for defense in depth. The security modules may prevent the operating system from making arbitrary connections, which is an effective mitigation strategy against ransomware, as well as against remote code execution (RCE).
  • Protect cloud storage by backing up to multiple locations, requiring MFA for access, and encrypting data in the cloud. If using cloud-based key management for encryption, ensure that storage and key administration roles are separated.

Malicious cyber actors use system and network discovery techniques for network and system visibility and mapping. To limit an adversary’s ability to learn an organization’s enterprise environment and to move laterally, take the following actions: 

  • Segment networks. Network segmentation can help prevent the spread of ransomware by controlling traffic flows between—and access to—various subnetworks and by restricting adversary lateral movement. Organizations with an international footprint should be aware that connectivity between their overseas arms can expand their threat surface; these organizations should implement network segmentation between international divisions where appropriate. For example, the ACSC has observed ransomware and data theft incidents in which Australian divisions of multinational companies were impacted by ransomware incidents affecting assets maintained and hosted by offshore divisions (outside their control).
  • Implement end-to-end encryption. Deploying mutual Transport Layer Security (mTLS) can prevent eavesdropping on communications, which, in turn, can prevent cyber threat actors from gaining insights needed to advance a ransomware attack.
  • Identify, detect, and investigate abnormal activity and potential traversal of the indicated ransomware with a network-monitoring tool. To aid in detecting the ransomware, leverage a tool that logs and reports all network traffic, including lateral movement on a network. Endpoint detection and response tools are particularly useful for detecting lateral connections as they have insight into unusual network connections for each host. Artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) are also able to detect and block many anomalous behaviors associated with early stages of ransomware deployment.
  • Document external remote connections. Organizations should document approved solutions for remote management and maintenance. If an unapproved solution is installed on a workstation, the organization should investigate it immediately. These solutions have legitimate purposes, so they will not be flagged by antivirus vendors.
  • Implement time-based access for privileged accounts. For example, the just-in-time access method provisions privileged access when needed and can support enforcement of the principle of least privilege (as well as the zero trust model) by setting network-wide policy to automatically disable admin accounts at the Active Directory level. As needed, individual users can submit requests through an automated process that enables access to a system for a set timeframe. In cloud environments, just-in-time elevation is also appropriate and may be implemented using per-session federated claims or privileged access management tools.
  • Enforce principle of least privilege through authorization policies. Minimize unnecessary privileges for identities. Consider privileges assigned to human identities as well as non-person (e.g., software) identities. In cloud environments, non-person identities (service accounts or roles) with excessive privileges are a key vector for lateral movement and data access. Account privileges should be clearly defined, narrowly scoped, and regularly audited against usage patterns.
  • Reduce credential exposure. Accounts and their credentials present on hosts can enable further compromise of a network. Enforcing credential protection—by restricting where accounts and credentials can be used and by using local device credential protection features—reduces opportunities for threat actors to collect credentials for lateral movement and privilege escalation.
  • Disable unneeded command-line utilities; constrain scripting activities and permissions, and monitor their usage. Privilege escalation and lateral movement often depend on software utilities that run from the command line. If threat actors are not able to run these tools, they will have difficulty escalating privileges and/or moving laterally. Organizations should also disable macros sent from external sources via Group Policy.
  • Maintain offline (i.e., physically disconnected) backups of data, and regularly test backup and restoration. These practices safeguard an organization’s continuity of operations or at least minimize potential downtime from an attack as well as protect against data losses. In cloud environments, consider leveraging native cloud service provider backup and restoration capabilities. To further secure cloud backups, consider separation of account roles to prevent an account that manages the backups from being used to deny or degrade the backups should the account become compromised. 
  • Ensure all backup data is encrypted, immutable (i.e., cannot be altered or deleted), and covers the entire organization’s data infrastructure. Consider storing encryption keys outside the cloud. Cloud backups that are encrypted using a cloud key management service (KMS) could be affected should the cloud environment become compromised. 
  • Collect telemetry from cloud environments. Ensure that telemetry from cloud environments—including network telemetry (e.g., virtual private cloud [VPC] flow logs), identity telemetry (e.g., account sign-on, token usage, federation configuration changes), and application telemetry (e.g., file downloads, cross-organization sharing)—is retained and visible to the security team.

Note: critical infrastructure organizations with industrial control systems/operational technology networks should review joint CISA-FBI Cybersecurity Advisory DarkSide Ransomware: Best Practices for Preventing Business Disruption from Ransomware Attacks for more recommendations, including mitigations to reduce the risk of severe business or functional degradation should their entity fall victim to ransomware. 

Responding to Ransomware Attacks

If a ransomware incident occurs at your organization, cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom recommend organizations:

Note: cybersecurity authorities in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom strongly discourage paying a ransom to criminal actors. Criminal activity is motivated by financial gain, so paying a ransom may embolden adversaries to target additional organizations (or re-target the same organization) or encourage cyber criminals to engage in the distribution of ransomware. Paying the ransom also does not guarantee that a victim’s files will be recovered. Additionally, reducing the financial gain of ransomware threat actors will help disrupt the ransomware criminal business model.

Additionally, NCSC-UK reminds UK organizations that paying criminals is not condoned by the UK Government. In instances where a ransom paid, victim organizations often cease engagement with authorities, who then lose visibility of the payments made. While it continues to prove challenging, the NCSC-UK has supported UK Government efforts by identifying needed policy changes—including measures about the cyber insurance industry and ransom payments—that could reduce the threat of ransomware. 


  • For more information and resources on protecting against and responding to ransomware, refer to, a centralized, U.S. whole-of-government webpage providing ransomware resources and alerts.
  • CISA’s Ransomware Readiness Assessment is a no-cost self-assessment based on a tiered set of practices to help organizations better assess how well they are equipped to defend and recover from a ransomware incident.
  • CISA offers a range of no-cost cyber hygiene services to help critical infrastructure organizations assess, identify, and reduce their exposure to threats, including ransomware. By requesting these services, organizations of any size could find ways to reduce their risk and mitigate attack vectors.
  • The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program offers a reward of up to $10 million for reports of foreign government malicious activity against U.S. critical infrastructure. See the RFJ website for more information and how to report information securely.
  • The ACSC recommends organizations implement eight essential mitigation strategies from the ACSC’s Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents as a cybersecurity baseline. These strategies, known as the “Essential Eight,” make it much harder for adversaries to compromise systems.
  • Refer to the ACSC’s practical guides on how to protect yourself against ransomware attacks and what to do if you are held to ransom at
  • Refer to NCSC-UK’s guides on how to protect yourself against ransomware attacks and how to respond to and recover from them at


The information in this report is being provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The FBI, CISA, NSA, ACSC, and NCSC-UK do not endorse any commercial product or service, including any subjects of analysis. Any reference to specific commercial products, processes, or services by service mark, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation.



  • February 9, 2022: Initial Version

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.