Top 5 Ransomware Prevention TipsAdarsh Rai
The Ransomware Toll
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on a device, leaving those files and the systems that rely on them inoperable. The decryption is then requested in exchange for a ransom by malicious actors. Ransomware criminals frequently employ the threat of selling or disclosing sensitive data or authentication credentials if the ransom is not paid.
Ransomware can spread through networks that are not setup securely, harmful links and attachments in phishing emails, unintentionally accessing a website that is infected with malware, or downloading a fake software update. These actions enable threat actors to break into the victim’s network, move around inside it, and eventually release the ransomware payload, enabling extortion. Victims of ransomware have three choices after an infection: pay the ransom, try to remove the malware, or reset the device.
Unfortunately, this type of cybercrime is expanding; ransomware was identified as the top danger for 2021, and in just the third quarter of that year, cyberattacks increased by almost 140 percent. Ransomware attacks are more frequent than ever and are causing havoc across several industries. This was especially evident during COVID-19, which provided new opportunities for attackers; in March 2020, ransomware attacks rose by 148%.
5 Tips to Prevent Ransomware
A comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck strategy involving your entire organization is needed to combat ransomware. The five tips listed below can help organizations prevent attacks and lessen the impact of ransomware. No firm wants to be forced to choose between paying a ransom or settlement and losing crucial data. Attempted assaults and data breaches are inevitable. Thankfully, those aren’t the only choices available. The wisest course of action is to avoid having to make that choice in the first place. A layered security paradigm with network, endpoint, edge, application, and data-center controls supported by actionable threat intelligence is necessary for this strategy.
1. Data Backups
Always ensure that your data is backed up in case ransomware infects your machine and decryption is rendered impossible. Use an external hard drive, and after making the backup, make sure to unplug it from your computer. If not, the data on your hard drive will also be encrypted if it is connected when the ransomware becomes active.
If you encounter ransomware, you should immediately disconnect any compromised devices from your networks to prevent it from spreading. This implies that ransomware will prevent you from accessing your files and prevent you from moving the infected files. You must therefore always have backup copies of them, preferably in the cloud and on an external hard drive. In this manner, if ransomware does infect your computer or device, you can wipe it clean and reload your files using a backup.
- Your backup data should be adequately safeguarded and kept offline or out-of-band so that hackers cannot target it.
- Utilizing cloud services may help you prevent a ransomware outbreak since a lot of them store older versions of your files, allowing restoration of an unencrypted version if necessary.
- Make sure to regularly assess the effectiveness of the backups. Before rolling back in the event of an attack, be certain the backups are not compromised.
You won’t be tempted to compensate the malware creators with a ransom if you have backups of your data. Although backups won’t stop ransomware, they can minimize the risks.
2. Mindful Usage
- Never click on questionable links: Steer clear of clicking on links on questionable websites or in spam letters. Malicious links could trigger an automated download that infects your computer if you click on them.
- Don’t divulge personal information: If a call, text, or email asks for personal information from an unreliable source, don’t respond. When organizing a ransomware attack, cybercriminals may try to get personal data from you in order to customize their phishing messages for you.
- Do not open dubious email attachments: ransomware can also be downloaded onto your system via email attachments. Any suspicious-looking attachments should not be opened. Pay special attention to the sender and verify that the address is accurate to ensure the email is reliable. Never open an attachment that requests that you execute a macro in order to view it.
- Use only trusted sources for downloads: Never download software or media files from untrusted websites to reduce the chance of obtaining ransomware. Use reputable and trusted websites to download from. These websites can be identified by the trust seals. Ensure that “https” is being used in place of “http” in the browser address bar of the page you are visiting.
3. Prevention & Mitigation Measures
Secure browsing and Web Application Firewall (WAF)
A web application firewall (WAF) aids in the protection of web applications by filtering and observing HTTP traffic to and from a web service. It serves as the initial line of defense against cyberattacks, making it a crucial component of security. Organizations frequently increase the attack surface concurrently with the implementation of new digital projects. Due to web server vulnerabilities, server plugins, or other problems, new online applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) may be exposed to harmful traffic. These programs, as well as the content they access, are kept secure by a WAF.
With the rise in cloud usage, network segmentation is becoming more and more crucial, particularly in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud scenarios. Organizations can separate their networks based on business requirements and offer access based on user role and current trust status. Every network request is examined in light of the requestor’s present level of trust. If threats do get to enter the network, this is extremely helpful in preventing their lateral movement to other networks, systems, and infrastructure.
System and program updates
You can protect yourself more effectively from malware by frequently updating your operating system and applications. Make sure you take advantage of the most recent security patches when running updates. Turning on the ‘auto-update’ feature will ensure you get the latest patches and updates. This makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to take advantage of vulnerabilities in your systems.
Identity, access, and password management
Make sure your password is always secure and distinct when upgrading your login information. On multiple accounts, numerous individuals use the same password or password variations. Therefore, if one of your passwords is compromised, make sure to diversify them so that hackers cannot access all of your accounts at once. It is recommended to use a password manager to remember your passwords and create secure login keys. Change your passwords for all of your accounts right away if you learn that any organization that you’re in contact with has been hacked by a data breach or a ransomware assault.
4. Zero Trust Policy
The zero-trust security approach operates under the presumption that every effort by anything or anyone to join the network poses a risk. According to this theory of network security, neither users inside the network nor those outside it should be trusted unless their identification has been adequately verified. Zero-trust acknowledges that dangers, both inside and external to the network, are a constant. Network administrators’ thinking is influenced by these presumptions, which forces them to develop strict, reliable security mechanisms.
A zero-trust strategy requires rigorous identity verification before granting access to any person or device trying to connect to the network or application. This verification makes use of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), which requests multiple pieces of information from users before granting access. Network Access Control (NAC), which is used to prevent unwanted users and devices from connecting to a corporate or private network, is also a component of zero-trust. It guarantees that the network can be accessed by only authenticated users and approved, security-compliant devices.
5. Employee Training
Any cybersecurity plan needs to have people as its central focus. According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 85 percent of data breaches involve human involvement. You can have the best security measures in the world, but if your staff hasn’t been trained in cyber awareness, you’ll never be completely secure.
Ensure that all of your staff receive thorough training on identifying and reporting questionable online activity, exercising good online safety, and protecting their own devices and home networks. In order to keep their knowledge current and fresh in their minds, employees should participate in training both when they are hired and on occasion after that. Additionally, training should be kept current and should cover any new security procedures that might need to be put in place.
CISOs may construct a baseline of protection at the most vulnerable edge of their network and assist in keeping vital digital resources secure by educating people, especially remote workers, on how to maintain cyber distance, be aware of strange requests, and adopt fundamental security tools and protocols. To make sure that all systems are properly updated and patched, organizations must also follow some fundamental cyber hygiene guidelines.
The decision to pay the required ransom or not rests with the businesses affected by the ransomware. Some people think there isn’t any other choice. However, paying a ransom does not guarantee that your data will be released or that you will not experience similar problems in the future. It is better to take the preventative measures listed above, and ensure you mitigate and stay prepared in case of a ransomware attack.
Although some of the data was corrupted, 46% of those who paid the ransom claimed to have regained access to their files. Furthermore, 80 percent of those who paid the ransom suffered another attack. Of them, 46% claimed they believed the same group had attacked them, and 34% believed a different gang had carried out the second incident.
Prevention is better than cure. Do not make the costly mistake of ignoring the cybersecurity aspect of your organization. Caplock Security provides all the solutions needed to simplify your security implementation without impacting performance, provide a unified approach for streamlined operations, and enable you to scale for business growth.