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How to Stop Ransomware Attacks with Wearable Biometric Authentication

By John Gunn, CEO, Token  |  3 minute read

Enterprise cybersecurity is becoming a losing proposition for everyone. Organizations today face an ever-increasing number of cyber threats, from system intrusions and phishing scams to ransomware attacks, web application attacks, and more. Any of these threats can result in serious damage to enterprise assets and irreversible loss of data, reputation, and intellectual property.

According to the Verizon DBIR 2023 report, 74% of breaches in 2021 involved the “human element”. In particular, stolen credentials and malware/ransomware provided a great second step once attackers already got their foot in the door. Furthermore, the report notes that poor password practices have remained one of the leading causes of breaches since 2009.

These practices, like sharing passwords, reusing passwords across multiple accounts, and using the same password for work and personal accounts, create serious security risks. And yet, passwords remain the most common authentication method for companies worldwide.

Fortunately, there is an alternative authentication mechanism that’s much safer than passwords: wearable biometric authentication.

Wearable devices like the Token Ring provide a reliable authentication mechanism that eliminates the risks of password-based authentication and helps protect against many security problems like data breaches and ransomware.

Link between stolen passwords and ransomware attacks

Ransomware cripples businesses by encrypting their systems and rending them unusable until the victim pays the attacker a “ransom”. Most enterprise victims pay the ransom, hoping on good faith that the attacker will release their locked systems, and they can restart operations quickly.

Per the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, the average cost of a ransomware attack reached an all-time high in 2023 at $4.45 million. The report also noted that the average cost of a data breach in smaller organizations rose at a faster rate than enterprise organizations. The cost of a breach in an organization with fewer than 500 employees rose 21.4% in 2023 to $3.29 million. Further, IBM found that 25% of malicious attacks were classified as ransomware attacks, making it a powerful threat to organizations of all sizes. The DBIR 2023 lists “use of stolen credentials” as the most common action taken by a malicious actor in a ransomware attack. Since too many corporate users don’t follow safe password practices, attackers are able to easily steal passwords, often via Internet-facing virtual private networks (VPN) to penetrate an organization’s security perimeter. Once they infiltrate an enterprise account, they can infect it with malware that will encrypt it and affect its availability. The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack is one of the most prominent examples of this tactic. In some cases, the malware may spread to other network-connected devices, locking and encrypting them all and increasing the scale of the attack.

How wearable biometric authentication prevents ransomware attacks

Biometric authentication is the most secure method to authenticate users and control their access to enterprise resources. As a core element of next-generation multi-factor authentication (NGMFA), it uses a person’s unique biological characteristics, such as their fingerprints to verify that they are who they claim to be.

Biometric authentication provided by wearable devices like the Token Ring remove passwords from the authentication equation. Consequently, there are no passwords to steal, which reduces the risk of ransomware attacks to near-zero.

The Token Ring pairs with an authorized user’s fingerprint to verify their identity and authenticate their access requests. It includes a fingerprint proximity sensor, so the device only responds to that user. The sensor can even detect when the user takes off the ring, at which point it will automatically lock the ring, so no one else can use it.

Easy to use, the Token Ring provides all the benefits of MFA and passwordless login in just one step. The authentication workflow is contactless and handsfree, simplifying the user experience, regardless of which device, application, or network they are trying to access.

All in all, wearable biometrics are a near-infallible way to prevent ransomware attacks, since they provide the strongest possible authentication. Solutions like Token Ring can also prevent phishing, account takeovers, and man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, all of which are also serious risks for today’s organizations.

Conclusion

Modern-day cyberattackers are increasingly leveraging ransomware as their weapon of choice against unprepared organizations. And often, it is stolen user credentials and the inherent weaknesses of legacy MFA that allow them to access the keys to the kingdom. Wearable biometrics can keep these precious keys out of their hands and protect organizations from ransomware and other types of attacks.

Token Ring is a simple wearable device for reliable, biometric-based authentication that eliminates the vulnerabilities of outdated password-based authentication. Plus, it is suitable for a range of industries, including those where data is the most valuable asset. To know how Token Ring can protect your organization from ransomware attacks with next-generation MFA, request a demo.