Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom be paid in order to decrypt them. It has become one of the most common and costly cyber threats in recent years, with businesses of all sizes falling victim to attacks.
While ransomware can be a devastating threat, there are steps that businesses can take to protect themselves. In this guide, we will outline a range of tried and proven tips for combating ransomware and keeping your business safe.
By incorporating some or all of these tips in your enterprise data protection strategy to dramatically reduce your chances of falling victim to a ransomware attack and reduce the impact of an attack if one does occur.
Falling Victim To Ransomware Is Easy
One of the most common ways enterprises are exposed to ransomware is through phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are emails that contain malicious links or attachments. The attackers send emails impersonating someone from the organisation or a trusted partner and sometimes craft the emails to be “too good to be true”.
If a user clicks on such a link or opens an attachment, ransomware can be installed on their machine. Attackers usually use automated tools to send phishing emails on a large scale to increase their chances of success.
Other common ways attackers get ransomware on to a business’s systems include exploiting vulnerabilities in the organisation’s network, exploiting applications and software that have not been updated, and through the use of removable media such as USB drives.
An attacker can also try to access the organisation’s systems using stolen credentials. Once an attacker has access, they can install ransomware directly on the system.
Tips For Combating Modern Ransomware
The first step in combating ransomware is to be proactive in defence. Here are some tried and proven tips which can be put into place to proactively protect against ransomware attacks and ensure your organisation is prepared in case of an attack:
- Maintain an up-to-date Software Inventory: Regularly assess which software is installed on your organisation’s systems and keep track of software licenses and patches. Regularly update such software to the latest version to ensure your systems are secure.
- Strengthen Employee Awareness: Educate employees on how to spot suspicious emails and phishing attacks. If employees are aware of the various types of attacks, they are more likely to be able to spot an attack before it succeeds.
- Create Backups: Create regular backups of your important data. This will help you to recover from an attack if your systems are compromised. Remember to keep your backups secure and offline.
- Monitor Network Activity Regularly: Use tools to keep track of user activities, detect malicious activities, and monitor the traffic to identify anything suspicious.
- Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Implement multi-factor authentication for users to make sure that only trusted users can access the system and its data.
- Enable Email Security: Put controls in place to make sure emails with malicious content don’t reach your users by verifying the sender, content, and attachments
Creating A Strong Detection & Response Plan
Creating a strong detection and response plan is an essential part of defending against ransomware attacks. Here are some tips on how to create a robust plan for detecting and responding to ransomware:
- Establish a Network Segmentation Policy: Segmenting your company’s network into isolated zones can help prevent the spread of ransomware by containing infection on entry into the internal network.
- Utilise Third-Party Data Sources: Make use of third-party data sources such as threat intelligence feeds to spot signs of a ransomware attack.
- Deploy Advanced Security Solutions: Deploy advanced security solutions such as Network Detection and Response (NDR) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions to detect suspicious network activities.
- Set Up Logging and Monitoring: Automate logging and monitoring of user activities, traffic, and events to detect any suspicious activities or indicators of a ransomware attack.
- Train Everyone: Educate everyone in your organisation about the potential dangers of ransomware and how to detect malicious activity.
By following these tips and creating an effective security plan, you can build a strong defence against ransomware attacks.
Employee Training As A First Line Of Defence
A well-trained team of employees can make all the difference when it comes to defending against ransomware attacks. Providing staff with training and education on cyber security and the dangers of ransomware attacks is the key to a successful security plan. Here are some tips to help get your staff cybersecurity-ready:
- Have Regular Training Sessions: Make sure to provide regular training and seminars about ransomware and cyber-attacks in general.
- Implement Security Awareness Programs: Provide easy-to-follow and comprehensive security awareness programs to inform employees about the signs of ransomware attacks.
- Educate on Identifying Phishing Scams: Inform employees about methods used by attackers to gain access to corporate networks, such as phishing scams.
- Train on Secure Practices: Provide detailed instructions on how to practice secure habits such as password management, safe browsing, and other best practices.
- Monitor Data Access of Employees: Monitor employee access to data and deploy a least privilege access policy across different areas of the organisation.
By investing in the training and education of employees, companies can significantly reduce their chances of falling victim to a ransomware attack.
Backing Up Your Data To Battle Ransomware
Data backup is a key element of an organisation’s security strategy in the face of ransomware attacks. The goal of ransomware is to steal and encrypt data, which can result in the loss of important and confidential information. Regularly backing up your data is a must to guard against ransomware attacks.
Here are some tips for an effective data backup process:
- Automate The Backup Process: Automate the backup process and save the copies on a regular basis while excluding any folders that contain malicious code.
- Use Remote Backup: Employ the use of remote or cloud-based backup systems, in addition to on-site backup solutions.
- Use Different Backup Strategies: Use multiple strategies for backup, such as full, differential, and incremental backups.
- Monitor Backup Logs: Monitor the backup logs of any server and database regularly to ensure that the data is being automatically backed up as scheduled and check any errors or warnings.
- Test Your Backup System: Testing the reliability and the recovery capability of the backup system is critical to make sure it is working properly.
By creating back up policies and procedures, organisations can minimise their risk of falling prey to ransomware attacks.
The impact of ransomware on organisations continues to be substantial, and it’s important for enterprises to ensure they have robust defence strategies in place. Following the above tips, enterprises can develop their data security and backup systems to minimise their risk of falling prey to ransomware attacks.
A successful defence plan includes a breach response that includes an incident response plan with cyber awareness training, technical support, and backup data and systems processes. To be successful, organisations should be aware of the risks, acknowledge them, and adjust their security strategy accordingly.
It is also important to have processes in place to facilitate recovery should an attack occur. Organisations that have a good response plan and a strong security strategy in place will be best equipped to handle the threats posed by ransomware.