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Academic researchers have conjured up a novel idea to thwart ransomware attacks using firmware that can block write access to solid-state disks (SSD) as soon as it detects patterns matching such an attack.

The idea about the intelligent firmware, dubbed SSD-Insider++, has been proposed by a team of researchers that includes engineers from Korea’s Inha University, Daegu Institute of Science and Technology, and the Cyber Security Department at Ewha Womans University (EWU) as well as a researcher from the University of Central Florida in the US.

“I thought that it would be good if we can protect people not having anti-ransomware installed on their computers by providing them with an anti-ransomware-intrinsic SSD,” DaeHun Nyang, PhD, at EWU told The Register.

One of Nyang’s colleague working on NAND flash backed the idea owing to the memory’s delayed deletion attribute.

Minor overhead

The researchers have proposed their idea in a paper titled SSD-Insider++, SSD-Assisted Ransomware Detection and Data Recovery Techniques.

Parsing the paper, The Register explains that SSD-Insider++, which runs on the SSD controller, keeps its eyes peeled for patterns of drive activity that correspond to ransomware attacks.

As soon as it detects malicious activity, the mechanism disables input/output to the storage device, giving users the opportunity to remove the offending process that initiated the encryption.

Furthermore, SSD-Insider++ can also reportedly reverse any damage to data in a matter of seconds, by leveraging the operational characteristics of an SSD to instantly roll back any infected files.

According to the researchers, SSD-Insider++ had a 100% success rate with both in-the-wild and lab-grade malware, and even managed to reverse the damage within ten seconds.

Best of all, thanks to its implementation on the firmware, the mechanism only increases latency between 12.8%-17.3% with a throughput drop that maxed out at 8%.

Source: TechRadar

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