Proactive Patching Translates into Less Ransomware Payouts

[By Joao Correia, Technical Evangelist at TuxCare (, a global innovator in enterprise-grade cybersecurity for Linux]

Today’s threat actors are driven by a variety of potential motivators for attacking systems and networks. They may aim to disrupt entire economies, advocate for certain causes, infiltrate government structures or exploit intellectual assets. Yet of all these incentives, the pursuit of financial gain remains the most coveted factor. Understanding how attackers capitalize on cybersecurity breaches can provide valuable insights into threats and vulnerabilities that organizations confront in the realm of cyber-attacks.

The allure of financial gain in cybercrime is undeniable. According to a report released by the FBI at the end of 2023, Royal ransomware had outstanding requests for over $275 million just between September 2022 – November 2023. Whether it’s through ransomware attacks, financial fraud, identity theft, or the sale of stolen data on the dark web, the ongoing quest for monetary profit serves as a powerful driving force behind cyber-attacks. Ransomware attacks in particular have emerged as a favored tactic as attackers have found they can encrypt valuable data and demand significant ransomware payments for its release.

As a result, cybersecurity remains tricky to solve because incentives remain high on all sides. There are motives to keep finding vulnerabilities, exploiting them, stealing information or deploying ransomware to as many targets as possible. On the security researcher side, the payouts for big bounties are not up to par, making it an uneven fight. For example, a ransomware gang can encrypt and withhold valuable data from a company unless they fork over a ransomware payment. But the company is not guaranteed that they will actually get their data nor can they be confident it is not a big ger trap for more havoc if they do provide the ransom.

It’s easy to be overconfident on security matters. During a recent episode released by Enterprise Linux Security Podcast, Jay LaCroix said the only way to ensure maximum security is to follow 3 steps: never own a computer, never turn on a computer, and never use a computer.  This is because no matter how secure one thinks they are, risk still abounds. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. Whether you are a small private business fresh on the market, or a long standing firm with generational wealth behind you, all are seen equal in the eyes of a cyber criminal. When the payout opportunities are this high they are not picky on their targets. They want to hand out ransomware demands like candy and maximize their targets to better their chances of success.

Hackers have all the time in the world to spend excruciating amounts of time going over every inch of a company’s enterprise network searching for flaws and unpatched vulnerabilities. All it takes is one to gridlock company operations and cost millions of dollars in data recovery. This is why such an emphasis is placed on proper patch management. It can be the deciding factor in whether a company goes under, or narrowly avoids a damaging attack.

Unfortunately, the concept of patch management continues to be viewed as a time-consuming and highly disruptive process that not only places daily operations at risk, but burdens overworked security teams in the process. Conventional patching for the Linux kernel requires system reboots to load the patched code into the kernel. Because of this, the process often requires extensive coordination between maintenance, stakeholders, and security teams to schedule operational downtime and disrupt systems. These delays can negatively impact customer satisfaction, hurt revenue generation and take time away from other high-priority issues.

While outsourcing patching to a third party like a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) can aid organizations in handling this task, MSSPs are typically swamped with their own extensive security to-do lists for their clients and unable to provide the strict attention required for continuous vulnerability monitoring. This is where live patching enters to streamline the process significantly.  With live patching, DevOps, IT and SOC teams can put their security patching on autopilot in the background and deploy patches as soon as they become available, minimizing the windows of exploitable vulnerabilities and requiring no downtime.

The ability to deploy security patches without bothersome maintenance windows not only reduces unnecessary patch delays but also helps companies stay compliant with regulatory patching requirements. Fighting automation with automation can not only significantly reduce exposure to zero-day exploits but it can streamline vulnerability management in a way that limits pressures on IT security teams. Gone are the days when resources were burned through just to provide a weeks-long delayed patch or emergency reboots required that cost businesses valuable time.

Instead, the patching workload becomes reduced, and vulnerabilities are immediately recognized, patched and secured before a money-hungry hacker can pounce. The pursuit of financial gain continues to exert a profound influence on the landscape of cyberattacks, continuously underscoring the critical need for organizations to remain vigilant. Prioritizing vulnerability management at this level enables organizations to establish a proactive vs reactive environment that successfully combats constantly escalating threats. Regardless of company size or logistical complexity, CISOs and SecOps teams should embrace an automated approach to security with confidence.

Joao Correia serves as Technical Evangelist at TuxCare (, a global innovator in enterprise-grade cybersecurity for Linux.


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