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Detecting and Responding to a Ransomware Attack in Real-Time

by Metsi Security | July 13, 2023

According to a report by Forrester, ransomware attacks are expected to cost the global economy $20 billion in 2023, up from $11.5 billion in 2019. This is a staggering statistic, but one that is growing by the day.

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim's files, data or devices and, as the name suggests, demands a ransom before returning them safely. It can cause significant damage to businesses, disrupting their operations, compromising their data, and harming their reputation.

To protect themselves from ransomware attacks, organisations need to implement effective security measures that can detect and respond to ransomware in real-time. This can help minimise the impact of the attack, prevent its spread, and facilitate recovery.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the key steps involved in detecting and responding to a ransomware attack in real-time.

Monitoring Network Traffic

The first step in detecting a ransomware attack is to monitor the network traffic for any suspicious activity. This can include large file transfers, communication with known malicious IP addresses, or abnormal network behaviour. Real-time monitoring tools can continuously monitor the network traffic and alert the security team of any anomalies.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS)

An IDS is a security device that analyses incoming and outgoing traffic to detect potential signs of a ransomware attack. These can include encryption patterns, unauthorised access attempts, or malicious payloads. An IDS can generate alerts and block malicious traffic to prevent further damage.

Endpoint Protection

Endpoints are often the entry point for ransomware attacks, as attackers exploit vulnerabilities or use phishing emails to infect them. Therefore, it is essential to protect the endpoints with real-time monitoring agents that can detect any unusual activity on them. These can include file encryption, suspicious process behaviour, or registry changes. Endpoint protection tools can also prevent ransomware from executing or spreading by blocking malicious processes or files.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

A SIEM platform is a centralised system that collects logs and events from various security devices and systems, such as IDS alerts, endpoint logs, and network logs. It correlates and analyses the data in real-time to identify potential indicators of compromise related to a ransomware attack. A SIEM platform can also provide a comprehensive view of the attack scope, impact, and root cause.

Anomaly Detection

Anomaly detection is a technique that identifies abnormal patterns or behaviour indicative of a ransomware attack. This can include sudden spikes in file modification, access to unauthorised file extensions, or unusual communication patterns. Anomaly detection tools can use machine learning or statistical methods to learn the normal behaviour of the system and detect deviations from it.

Automated Alerts and Incident Response

When a potential ransomware attack is detected, real-time monitoring systems generate automated alerts to notify the security team. The alerts should contain relevant information about the attack, such as the source, destination, timestamp, and severity. The security team should then initiate the incident response processes, which include isolating affected systems from the network, quarantining infected files, and initiating the investigation.

Threat Intelligence Integration

Threat intelligence is information about current or emerging threats that can help security teams detect and respond to them more effectively. Real-time monitoring tools can integrate with threat intelligence feeds to identify known ransomware variants, command-and-control (C2) servers, or indicators of compromise associated with ransomware attacks. This can enhance the monitoring capabilities and enable proactive detection and response.

User Behaviour Monitoring

User behaviour monitoring is another technique that can help detect potential insider threats or compromised accounts involved in the spread of ransomware. Unusual user activities, such as accessing unauthorised files or performing excessive file modifications, can trigger alerts and prompt further investigation.


Ransomware attacks are a serious threat and an effective response plan, backed by real time monitoring, detection and response is crucial to ensuring that mitigate the risks associated.

If you want to learn more about how your organisation can develop a ransomware readiness strategy, grab a coffee with one of Metsi’s experienced security consultant to get started.