7 Practical Measures To Prevent Ransomware Attack
As technology weaves intricately with your daily tasks, data security and privacy can be compromised by its pervasiveness. Cybercriminals can take advantage of your system vulnerabilities. Once they can take hold of your important data, this ransomware attack can push you to follow their terms and conditions in exchange for restoring your information.
Often, ransomware attacks are lucrative activities for cybercriminals. Though some attacks are ideology-driven or politically motivated, most often, ransomware attackers are after your money. You can be a potential victim of ransomware attacks regardless of the size of the organization you’re working with. This implies that as long as you have valuable data, you can be a target.
So, what is ransomware? How can you protect your organization from possible attacks?
Ransomware is malicious software that infects computer systems and controls access to important data. Once your system is infiltrated, ransomware will spread to the rest of your network and prevent you from accessing these files. The attackers will then demand payment in exchange for the decryption of your files. If you don’t give in to their demands, they’ll either delete your data or publish sensitive information.
Nowadays, ransomware evolves into different strains, making cybersecurity challenging. However, there are four basic categories of ransomware that you can classify them with:
- Crypto Ransomware: From the name itself, ‘crypto’, this ransomware will encrypt your files and ask for a ransom for a decryption key. Often, this ransomware thrives in emails and websites.
- Locker ransomware: This type of malware uses human vulnerabilities to infect and block access to your computer.
- Double extortion ransomware: Attackers use this type of ransomware to encrypt files and threaten to publicly disclose the stolen contents. Even if you can restore your data, the attackers have already exported the data and can publish it if you fail to pay the ransom.
- RaaS (Ransomware as a Service): Perpetrators can now subscribe to the ransomware strain by paying the RaaS creators. After subscribing, they can use the RaaS to perform their crime and collect ransom payments.
With this scenario in mind, you need to prepare your organization for possible attacks and secure your files. Now that you’ve grasped what ransomware is, it’s time to prevent ransomware attacks with the following tips:
1. Create A Well-Defined Security Policy
Well-defined policies set clear guidelines which include the dos and don’ts for employees when conducting online transactions. Also, you can incorporate into your policies the roles and responsibilities of the members of your information technology (IT) security team who’ll handle security breaches.
In most cases, ransomware can infiltrate an organization because of social compromises such as clicking unsecured links and opening suspicious emails. Security starts inside your organization. That’s why you need to have policies that govern the actions of your team members.
Define your policies as clearly as you can and don’t hesitate to implement them in your organization.
2. Keep Your System Up To Date
Ransomware evolves and new strains are created. As attacks become more complex, you need to upgrade your tools to prevent the intrusion of malware into your system.
For early malware detection, make sure that your security software and operating system are updated. Otherwise, vulnerabilities from previous versions can be a loophole for attackers to get through. System updates patch vulnerabilities and remediate risks.
3. Backup Data Regularly
Storing copies of important files is good practice for any organization. Ransomware encrypts files, so you should be prepared to have copies on another device, preferably, outside the network.
When creating backups, check whether you have all the necessary files copied. You can regularly check your files, to make sure that they’re still accessible. Don’t forget to update your copies if you have modified some files. It will be frustrating if ransomware blocks your access to a newer version of your files and all you have is the previous version.
4. Secure Your Email
Emails are the most common communication channel in any organization. For attackers, emails are an entry point for ransomware to creep in. Hence, you have to safeguard your emails to prevent intrusion. For instance, you can do robust filtering of emails you’re receiving. Attacks are less likely when there are fewer emails.
While anti-malware products can block malware, ransomware rapidly mutates, making it harder to detect. In addition, ransomware can come in the form of an executable attachment as well, so you must have a method of verifying email attachments and blocking suspicious ones.
You can have an email gateway for blocking attachments and allowing only those files with document format extensions.
5. Perform Security Checkups Consistently
Identifying your vulnerabilities can be the basis of improving your security. You need to have a consistent and regular assessment of your system’s defenses. Scan your systems for possible risks and implement a remedy for any identified vulnerabilities.
6. Restrict Access To Sensitive Data
Not everyone should have access to your organization’s files. Remember, a single compromised credential can be used by a cybercriminal to breach your security and exploit your system. That’s why you have to restrict access only to those employees who’ll need to have a copy of the file.
After identifying who’ll access which files, implement robust password authentication, especially for those with administrative credentials. You must ensure that your passwords are difficult to decipher. Verify whether your authorized personnel have elevated privileges, which include a robust password management policy.
Additionally, you can include in your policies that employees have to surrender their user accounts once they resign from the company. You must remove them from your inventory of employees with privileged access.
7. Improve Network Level Security
In an organization, devices are connected to a network. If one of these devices is infected, ransomware can spread into the entire network. To improve your network security, turn on your firewalls. Firewalls filter what comes in and out of your network. You can deploy firewalls that allow whitelisting of suspicious devices.
When it comes to preventing ransomware attacks, cautious measures and efficient security software are a good combination. Worst-case scenarios are better prevented if your organization takes seriously the importance of cybersecurity.
Ransomware attacks can impact your organization. Aside from possible financial losses in extortion, security breaches can cause clients to mistrust your organization. To avoid dire consequences, you can start implementing the practical measures outlined in this article and strengthen your defenses now.
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