Malicious cyber-attacks are a severe threat to organizations globally, especially due to vulnerabilities caused by remote work. They are becoming more sophisticated as hackers use more sophisticated attack vectors. Businesses should develop strong strategies to protect against ransomware and its impact.
Today, cyber-attacks use malware designed to skillfully exploit systems, files, data, servers, and other important assets. The ransomware infections continue with a ransom demand and threaten to release sensitive data if not paid. Many companies pay the ransom to keep their data safe, but that may not be helpful.
Threat actors attack businesses with ransom using new techniques and procedures that don’t require victims to click on a malicious link or download infected files.
Cyber criminals also use phishing emails to exploit common programming languages and data formats to deposit ransomware directly into business systems. This way, they can access crucial information and demand ransom payments.
Such incidents pose significant business challenges, including regulatory penalties for damaging brand reputation.
The challenges Ransomware Causes for Businesses
In the current threat space, ransomware is a significant risk for organizations. It accounts for 27% of all malware-driven security incidents, as stated by the IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022 Report.
Here are key stats on how threat actors are developing ransomware in different ways:
Companies are open to vulnerabilities without a strong preventive plan to protect weak points and monitor devices and servers.
They need a proper response management process or, even better, preventive policies to protect data and networks.
Strategies for Preventing Ransomware Attacks
1. Create an In-depth security program
The latest anti-malware tools include anti-ransomware features. So, building a strong defense-proof security program, including strong anti-malware, is important. It includes:
- Endpoint scanning and filtering
- Network traffic analysis
- Email security filtering
- Endpoint detection and response
Besides these, organizations should include multifactor authentication, usage of VPNs, zero-trust network, and Remote Desktop Protocol. These will help secure common ransomware entry points and protect points from attacks.
2. Include advanced protection technologies
As attackers today use new tools, it’s important that security leaders also use the latest tools to detect them. These tools could be:
- User and entity behavior analytics
- Zero-trust security
- Cyber deception
- Endpoint detection and response solutions
- Intrusion prevention system (IPS)
- Deception Techniques
3. Monitoring risks of social engineering
Social engineering risks occur when users click a malicious URL or download an infected attachment.
To prevent the impact of ransomware, organizations need strategies for awareness training for employees and stakeholders. This ransomware-specific awareness training can help to reduce the impact and prevent them from falling into systems.
The strategies should revolve around:
- Using strong passwords
- Verify email addresses (internally and externally)
- Install anti-ransomware software to email software and platforms
- Install scanners to detect and monitor threat attachments or restrict downloading suspicious attachments and links.
4. Patch Management
Regularly installing patches for system and software weak points is an essential strategy to prevent the risk of ransomware.
Creating standard and emergency patching procedures will help to monitor and maintain online infrastructure components like software, servers, networks, and more.
Organizations can use patch management tools to automate monitoring and management activities more efficiently.
5. Frequent Backups
Frequent backups can mitigate the financial risks of ransomware. In the cases where ransomware encrypts data, backups can help restore access to data.
However, it is important to keep backups under secured networking systems far from the attackers.
In addition, organizations should also ensure to include identification and coding into backups to retrieve data information.
Best Practices for Preventing Ransomware Attacks
These are the additional precautions that businesses can take to prevent severe attacks.
- Protect emails rigorously: Security leaders should ensure they have proper security solutions for business emails to prevent emails from being compromised. Antivirus software is important, but taking these precautions is equally important.
- Include the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) technique
- Include Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) to authenticate emails.
- Application whistling: any suspicious program or website will be blocked if it gets downloaded or tries to infect systems.
- Limit user access: Limiting user access will help to protect networks and systems. It will restrict access to data and allow only a few levels of employees to get access. The practice will help in preventing ransomware from spreading between systems.
- Plan routine testing methods: Security leaders should run regular cybersecurity tests and assessments to adapt to changing environments. Testing methods should include the following points:
- Re-valuation of access and entry points
- Identification of new system weak points
- Study and update new security protocols according to the standard regulation.
7. Identify the source: Organizations should check vulnerable sources that ransomware attackers can use to enter. Regular checks can help locate the entry point of the ransomware. So, continuous identification can improve security practices at scale.
Actionable and solid preventive strategies begin before any ransomware attacks occur. However, the practices to secure business assets and systems are right from the start and should continue even after strategies are formed.
Abiding with these strategies and practices can also help organizations know the severity of attacks and stay prepared for the future.
Even in an attack, they should be able to identify and block weak points. Thus, future attacks can be prevented. After an attack, there should be an assessment of these points and the severity of the attacks. This will help organizations and security teams to stay prepared for the future.