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Zscaler SSE Insights Part 3: How to Stop Ransomware


Zscaler was recently named a leader in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Security Service Edge, positioned with the industry’s highest ability to execute. This marks 11 consecutive years of Zscaler leadership in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™. 

Security Service Edge (SSE) is a fairly new category. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a consolidation of three existing security categories—Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Zero Trust Network Architecture (ZTNA), and Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)—or, it’s a deconstruction of SASE that separates security capabilities from network plumbing. 

Either way, SSE is not just an arbitrary addition to the security industry’s alphabet soup: it’s an extremely relevant evolution of enterprise security that recognizes what organizations need to protect their distributed users, applications, and workloads against today’s threats. 

In this blog series, we’re outlining three case studies that showcase why SSE matters. You can find a blog for securing hybrid work here, and one for stopping data breaches here. In this blog, we’ll pull from the full SSE feature set with a case study around something on the top of most security teams’ list of concerns these days: ransomware.

How SSE stops ransomware

SSE delivers important protections across the ransomware attack lifecycle.

A ransomware attack starts with attackers infiltrating an endpoint or application from the internet, whether through a phishing attack, exploit, or brute force. The secure web gateway capabilities of SSE help prevent this with inspection, ransomware protection, and least-privilege access control. Today’s attackers are sophisticated and can whip up new encrypted malware variants with ease, so it’s important that your security controls can inspect all traffic in-line (whether encrypted or unencrypted) and use tools like sandboxing and isolation to quarantine and analyze unknown threats. 


Stage 1 of a ransomware attack: Initial compromise

Next, attackers move throughout your network to escalate their privileges and access your valuable data. A zero trust network architecture can mitigate damage at this stage by stopping attackers from moving laterally, granting access only to specific applications, not to other endpoints or your organization’s crown jewels. By stopping lateral movement, if an attacker does manage to infiltrate an endpoint, the attack is contained – which makes it much easier to mitigate, and much less likely to disrupt your business in any meaningful way.



Stage 2 of a ransomware attack: Lateral movement

Finally, ransomware actors execute their attack. Most ransomware attacks today include double-extortion tactics, where attackers steal data before encrypting as many valuable files as they can access across various endpoints and network assets. Attackers will threaten to publish the files that they steal, which gives them lots of leverage, as you can no longer just restore encrypted files from backup and be done with it. CASB and DLP capabilities identify vulnerable data and inspect outgoing traffic to make sure your assets stay safe, stopping any attempted exfiltration attempts to malicious servers.


Stage 3 of a ransomware attack: Action to objective

The Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange is the industry’s most complete SSE solution.

Zscaler’s protections start before the attack even begins: its cloud-native, proxy-based architecture reduces the attack surface by making internal apps invisible to the internet, thus eliminating potential attack vectors. Zscaler then delivers full inspection and authentication of all traffic, including encrypted traffic, to keep malicious actors out. Zscaler safely connects users and entities directly to applications—not networks—to eliminate the possibility for lateral movement, and surrounds your crown jewel applications with realistic decoys for good measure. Then, it again inspects all traffic headed outbound to cloud applications to prevent data theft.

By unifying these technologies through the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange, organizations gain unmatched ransomware protection and visibility from a single platform that reduces IT complexity and optimizes performance.



Zscaler is proud to be recognized for the comprehensive risk reduction that we deliver to our customers, and we’re improving every day. Our experts are continuously building new capabilities to stay ahead of attackers using advanced AI fed by data from the world’s largest inline security cloud. You don’t have to take our word for it: Download your own complimentary copy of the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Security Service Edge and learn how the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange can protect your organization.

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