In the first half of 2023, the median dwell time for ransomware incidents has dropped from nine days to five days, compared to a slight rise in non-ransomware incidents. Improved endpoint detection appears to pressure hackers to expedite their attacks.
While ransomware groups experiment with tactics like intermittent encryption and faster encryption algorithms, experts believe executing a double-extortion attack in under five days remains challenging due to the complexities of data exfiltration and setup.
Sophos researchers note that 81% of ransomware attacks launch their payload outside of regular business hours, with weekends being particularly favored. The trend highlights hackers’ strategy of exploiting low staffing levels during off-hours for successful strikes.
In the case of an Active Directory (AD) attack, hackers are taking just around 16 hours to navigate from the initial compromise to gaining access to Microsoft AD. AD, being a powerful and privileged system, gives attackers control over an organization, granting them the ability to orchestrate malicious activities unimpeded.
John Shier, a Sophos field CTO, emphasizes the significance of AD attacks, stating that controlling AD means controlling the entire organization due to its comprehensive access to resources.
However, AD servers are frequently protected only by Microsoft Defender, or sometimes not at all, making them vulnerable to attackers. Such tactics have been observed in notorious ransomware strains like LockBit 3.0, as highlighted by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.