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Channel has key role to play in stemming ransomware tide

SonicWall has tracked an explosion in the number of ransomware attacks and highlighted the importance of the channel in helping customers handle the threat

The shift to home working and dispersed workforces has been an opportunity for many cyber criminals to prey on the most vulnerable and exploit the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, the number of attacks, particularly ransomware, has increased – as have the opportunities for the channel to ride to the rescue and help customers shore up their defences.

“For most of us, 2020 has been the year where we’ve seen economies almost stop, morning commutes end and traditional offices disappear,” said SonicWall president and CEO Bill Conner. “However, the overnight emergence of remote workforces and virtual offices has given cyber criminals new and attractive vectors to exploit. These findings show their relentless pursuit to obtain what is not rightfully theirs for monetary gain, economic dominance and global recognition.”

The latest third-quarter threat intelligence report coming out of SonicWall’s Capture Labs indicated there had been a 40% global surge in ransomware, a 19% hike in intrusion attempts and slight increases in encrypted threats and crypto jacking.

The vendor found that ransomware defences in the UK were holding up fairly well. There had been increased activity on that front, with Ryuk detections rising throughout 2020. In the third quarter of 2019 the vendor detected 5,123 Ryuk attacks, but this year the number swelled to 67.3 million.

Spencer Starkey, head of distribution and inside channel account manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at SonicWall, said that now, more than ever, there was a role to play for those with cyber security expertise.

“Having a channel partner that understands how the threat landscape is shifting and what solutions can mitigate new variants will go a long way to bolstering the security of the enterprise”
Spencer Starkey, SonicWall

“For partners and resellers, having a clear understanding of the cyber security threat landscape, particularly when it comes to new and emerging threats, is of paramount importance,” he said.

“When a ransomware variant such as Ryuk grows exponentially, it becomes the dual responsibility of both vendor and channel partner not only to ensure that they are doing their utmost to protect customers, but also to build ongoing support into this, making sure that the customer understands how to best protect their business. For this, it is imperative that they have support and expertise from the channel that they can lean on,” he added.

Over the course of the pandemic, several experts have highlighted the ongoing security skills shortage and its impact on customers. Research emerged in September from Heficed, which revealed that attacks launched this year were up by 300%.

“Current events have created a new set of opportunities for cyber criminals,” said Vincentas Grinius, CEO at Heficed. “Hackers have been exploiting increased dependency on solid network infrastructures and exposed their shortcomings that previously may have been set aside.

“We have definitely noticed a sharp increase in abuse and cyber attacks during the pandemic period,” added Grinius. “It is also clear that this new trend is not going away any time soon.”

Starkey underlined the importance of the role a skilled channel partner could play, noting that some customers would find it difficult to deal with the current wave of attacks on their own.

“If security teams lack the right personnel internally, having a channel partner that understands how the threat landscape is shifting, and crucially what solutions can mitigate new variants, will go a long way to bolstering the security of the enterprise,” he said.

“Malicious actors know that data is now outside of the perimeter, so the modern enterprise needs a truly boundless defence architecture to protect this data. The channel plays a pivotal role here, giving enterprises the solutions and support they need to counteract growing ransomware variants such as Ryuk,” he concluded.

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