- In 2022, the median dwell time decreased from 15 to 10 days.
- It took on average less than a day—approximately 16 hours—for attackers to reach Active Directory (AD), one of the most critical assets for a company.
The dwell time for ransomware attacks has dropped significantly as more firms become cybersecurity-aware, integrating detection technologies and employing experts.
In an interview with Star at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) forum held in Dubai, Sophos field chief technology officer, John Shier said they have observed a notable 72 per cent reduction in the dwell times of ransomware attacks.
"While this progress can be attributed in part to the growing integration of detection technologies, it remains imperative to acknowledge the significance of hands-on experience", he said.
According to Shier, after analyzing Sophos Incident Response (IR) cases from January to July 2023, Sophos X-Ops found that median attacker dwell time—the time from when an attack starts to when it’s detected—shrunk from 10 to eight days for all attacks and to five days for ransomware attacks.
In 2022, the median dwell time decreased from 15 to 10 days.
Additionally, the firm found out that it took on average less than a day—approximately 16 hours—for attackers to reach Active Directory (AD), one of the most critical assets for a company.
AD typically manages identity and access to resources across an organization, meaning attackers can use AD to easily escalate their privileges on a system to simply log in and carry out a wide range of malicious activity.
"Attacking an organization's Active Directory infrastructure makes sense from an offensive view. AD is usually the most powerful and privileged system in the network, providing broad access to the systems, applications, resources and data that attackers can exploit in their attacks,'' Shier said.
He concluded that when an attacker controls AD, they can control the organization. The impact, escalation, and recovery overhead of an Active Directory attack is why it’s targeted.
Yet, the latest report by the firm shows cybercriminals have now turned their guns on the retail business after it emerged that they are softer targets.
In a cross-sector trend, the retail sector experienced its highest rate of encryption over the past three years, with 71 per cent of those organisations targeted by ransomware stating that attackers successfully encrypted their data
Only 26 per cent of surveyed organisations managed to stop cyber criminals from encrypting their data in a ransomware attack this is the lowest rate of disruption in three years.
In the latest State of Ransomware in Retail 2023, Sophos found that only 26 per cent of retail organisations this past year were able to disrupt a ransomware attack before their data was encrypted.
The notable causality in Kenya was Naivas which is now facing a Sh5 million penalty should the Data commissioner find it culpable.
This is a three-year low for the sector—a decline from 34 per cent in 2021 and 28 per cent in 2022—suggesting the sector is increasingly unable to halt ransomware attacks already in progress.
"Retailers are losing ground in the battle against ransomware. Ransomware criminals have been encrypting increasingly greater percentages of their retail victims in the last three years, as evidenced by the steadily declining rate of retailers stopping cybercriminal attacks in progress,'' the report reads.
It insists that retailers must up their defensive game by setting up security that detects and responds to intrusions earlier in the attack chain.
In addition, the report found that, for those retail organisations that paid the ransom, their median recovery costs [not including the ransom payment] were four times the recovery costs of those that used backups to recover their data [$3,000,000 versus $750,000].
“At least 43 per cent of retail victims paid the ransom according to our survey respondents, yet the median recovery cost to victims who paid the ransom was four times the cost to those who used backups and other recovery methods.''