Do the New Ransomware Strains Target Microsoft 365 Data?

Rafael Galante
Rafael Galante | Published On - 03 Sep 2021 |

Read time 4 min

Cloud applications are prone to ransomware attacks more than ever, especially from the new strains. New ransomware attacks, like ransomware as a service (RaaS), can damage your cloud applications drastically. Besides, the new ransomware attacks are readily available across the dark web, which attackers can use easily without any technical knowledge.

Although Microsoft 365 is protected from ransomware encryption and data corruption errors, it is still prone to new ransomware attacks. Also, being the leading messaging and collaboration platform, it has become the primary target for ransomware attacks. For instance, the WannaCry and Cerber ransomware attacks proved how they could damage your Microsoft 365 data.

Ransomware can affect your Microsoft 365 data via two main entry points, either via a malicious attachment or a link received through email or a hostile network packet received on your system. Let’s have a look at the Microsoft 365 applications that can be affected by ransomware.

  • OneDrive & SharePoint
    OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online are two essential applications of Microsoft 365 widely used by organizations worldwide. Ransomware can infect both these applications on your local machine. Ransomware gets access to machines via a OneDrive for Business connection or a mapped drive to a SharePoint Online library. Once the user files get infected, they’re synchronized online via the sync client tool.
    Although OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online have some built-in protection known as versioning, it is not enough to protect your data.
  • Exchange Online
    Exchange Online is another excellent application of Microsoft 365, which is believed to be immune to ransomware. But the new ransomware can even encrypt Microsoft 365 Exchange Online emails. Ransomware attacks on Exchange Online can come in the form of a simple phishing email. These emails look authentic and appear to have originated from a trusted resource.
    Clicking any links on such emails or opening any attachments can directly infect your Exchange Online account. Exchange Online does provide some built-in security measures to prevent such attacks; however, they can’t prevent user errors.
    Apart from the above applications, ransomware can infect all other applications in your Microsoft 365 account. Besides, most ransomware uses compromised credentials and local network protocols vulnerabilities to spread the infection to other computers within your organization. It can affect your organization in multiple ways:
  • Ransomware performs network scanning to identify critical data sources to target machines running on old/vulnerable software
  • Find credentials and access permissions to connect to other computers and infect them drastically

Moreover, ransomware plants infected files to local file sharing servers and SharePoint Online sites, which can later infect the entire cloud data in your organization. Thus, it is crucial to protect your Microsoft 365 data with best practices.

Tips to Recover from Ransomware Attacks

Once you find out that your Microsoft 365 account is under a ransomware attack, you need to take preventive measures to recover from it. There are various tips you can follow to recover your Microsoft data from ransomware attacks, such as:

  • Disable your synchronization services, including OneDrive sync client or SharePoint mapped drive
  • Restore the data from SaaS backup to its state just before the attack
  • Don’t alter the affected files; let them be the way they are
  • Use Microsoft’s synchronization services on a new computer rather than using it on the affected system
  • Avoid opening any new email or attachment on your system

Even the above practices may not helpful if you become a victim of new ransomware. So, the best way to be safe against ransomware attacks is to back up your Microsoft 365 data. But, the manual method to backup and restore Office 365 data is time-consuming and hectic. Also, there is no surety of complete data backup with the manual techniques.

The only alternative to manual Office 365 data backup is using an automated tool like Kernel Office 365 Backup & Restore, which is integrated with advanced algorithms. It allows you to backup your Office 365 data to a PST file to secure your critical data. Using this tool, you can backup & restore Office 365 mailboxes in bulk while maintaining the data hierarchy. Besides, it gives you the freedom to backup selective data items based on your requirements.

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Wrap Up

Ransomware can infect your Microsoft 365 data to a large extent making it unrecoverable without paying the ransom. Besides, the new ransomware are so vulnerable that it can attack your entire organization’s data. So, it is crucial to take preventive measures to avoid or overcome ransomware attacks to secure your data. This article discusses how the new ransomware can attack your Microsoft 365 data and mentions the best practices to recover from ransomware.