For years, ransomware has been one of the biggest threats to organizations across different industries. And in 2022, it’s expected that ransomware attacks will become even more widespread and cause far greater damage than ever before, thanks to the rise of Ransomware-as-a-Service and the emergence of more sophisticated ransomware strains.
To strengthen your company’s defenses against ransomware and ensure business continuity in the event of an attack, here’s what you can do:
Provide security awareness training
Your staff is your business’s first line of defense against cyberthreats such as ransomware. Providing them with cybersecurity training will make them better equipped to spot and handle ransomware attacks. Create a training program that focuses on how ransomware works and what to do in the event of an attack, and regularly review and update it with the latest information to keep it relevant.
Your training program should also put emphasis on the importance of not paying the ransom. Giving in to cybercriminals’ demands will only encourage them to attack other organizations, or maybe even launch another ransomware attack on yours, since you proved to be an easy target. Also, there’s no guarantee that paying up will get you your files back; according to a Kaspersky report, 56% of ransomware victims in 2020 paid the ransom, but only 17% of them regained access to their data and systems.
Install anti-malware software
Today’s anti-malware solutions can detect and stop ransomware attacks before they can cause damage to your network. By scanning your systems for files that match known malware signatures, they can identify potential malware. Your IT admin or managed IT services provider (MSP) will then be alerted so they can take the necessary steps to address the issue.
Some advanced anti-malware tools use sandboxing to detect ransomware. In this method, a software program is run in an isolated environment, or “sandbox,” on a network or a computer. If the program behaves suspiciously (e.g., attempts to modify files), it will be flagged and terminated to prevent a security incident.
Boost network security
The following network security tools will help keep ransomware attacks at bay:
- Next-generation firewall – detects and blocks suspicious network traffic or activity based on established security policies at the application, port, and protocol levels
- Intrusion prevention system – a device or software that continuously monitors for, reports, and blocks malicious activity
- Network access control – enforces role-based access permissions to keep unauthorized users out of an organization’s network or from certain network resources
- Security information and event management – a software solution that consolidates and analyzes activity across a network, enabling IT administrators to spot signs of a ransomware attack easily
Network segmentation can further bolster your network’s security. This method involves dividing your network into multiple segments or areas that are independent of each other and have their own security perimeter. If attackers manage to infiltrate one of these segments, they won’t be able to move laterally across the network without first breaching the security perimeter of all of the other segments. This prevents network-wide compromise and minimizes damage.
Back up your data
Perform regular, scheduled backups of your data. In general, you should perform a full backup of your data — especially mission-critical information — once a week. Follow the 3-2-1 backup rule: keep three copies of your data in two different storage media, with one copy stored off site. In the event of a ransomware attack on your business, you’ll be able to recover data from your uninfected backups, therefore keeping downtime as well as revenue and productivity losses to a minimum.
You should also implement robust security measures for protecting your backups from ransomware. Restrict access to your backups and encrypt them using at least 256-bit AES to keep attackers from finding and modifying your files.
Keep operating systems (OS) and software updated
Install the latest updates and patches as soon as they become available to address gaps and vulnerabilities in your OS and programs. Without these updates, ransomware attackers may uncover and take advantage of vulnerabilities in the OS and software you use, giving them access to your systems.
To make it easier to deploy updates, enable automatic updates for software on you and your employees’ devices, or use patch management software to distribute patches from a centralized dashboard.
Develop an incident response plan
An incident response plan is a set of procedures for detecting and dealing with a cybersecurity incident, allowing your team to contain the threat and mitigate the damage to your systems and data. During a ransomware attack, for instance, the procedures include:
- Disconnecting the affected device/s from the network. This will prevent the ransomware from spreading to other devices or to your company’s file hosting and syncing service.
- Locking down backups. Keep users from accessing your backups until after the ransomware has been removed.
- Alerting your IT team or MSP. If they have the appropriate decryption tool, they can try to recover the infected files. They can also remove the ransomware or keep it from encrypting other files on the compromised device. Your IT team or MSP will also verify your backups before trying to recover your data.
- Reporting the attack. Call local law enforcement authorities or the FBI.
- Reviewing your existing security measures. This will allow you to identify previously undetected issues that may have led to the attack, and make adjustments as needed.
Cutting Edge Network Technologies offers comprehensive protection against ransomware and other cyberthreats to businesses in Orlando, Tampa, and St. Petersburg. Learn more about our services by giving us a call, or download our FREE eBook.