How to Prevent Ransomware Infections: Best Practices
There is no one-size-fits-all solution that will protect you from ransomware in all circumstances. Following these ransomware best practices, on the other hand, will allow you to reduce the likelihood of becoming infected as well as the amount of damage that a successful attack can cause. Please refer to the background information provided at the end of this paper for a rudimentary understanding of what ransomware is and how it operates.
Best Practices for Preventing Ransomware Infection
Employees should be educated on how to raise their IT security awareness and avoid falling for phishing emails, spam emails, and other forms of social engineering.
Regular users should not be granted administrative privileges on their workstations.
Maintain the most recent versions of your antivirus software, endpoint protection, digital vaccinations, and other security software and databases. Run a frequent check of your servers and workstations to identify any out-of-date software.
As soon as feasible, apply the most recent patches to your operating system and applications to decrease the amount of time known vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers. Always test new updates, patches, and hotfixes in a test environment before deploying them in a production environment.
The File Server Resource Manager can be used to block known ransomware extensions. If ransom software is unable to create files with such extensions on your file server, it will be unable to encrypt the files on your computer.
Configure your firewall to allow only the specific ports and hosts that you require to pass through. You should not, for example, open remote desktop ports to the internet.
To decrease the number of attack vectors and the likelihood of being compromised, install and configure intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems as described above.
You should immediately disconnect or deactivate any rogue or unfamiliar processes that you uncover on your servers or workstations, and then conduct a comprehensive investigation into the source of the danger.
To reduce the danger associated with BYOD (bring your device), a guest network for new or unknown devices should be set up.
Secure passwords and account lockout policies should be enabled in both on-premises and virtual settings to limit the likelihood of ransomware infection following a brute force attack. [source code]
Take into consideration segmenting your organization’s network into distinct zones to reduce the ability of ransomware to spread if it manages to infiltrate a segment of your network.
By implementing correct NTFS permissions management through the use of security groups, you may restrict user access to shared drives. Because ransom malware can only encrypt files that the victim has access to, a tight least-privilege approach limits the amount of harm it may cause.
Disabling smb v1 will aid in preventing popular ransomware such as WannaCry from spreading over your entire network environment.
Activate the use of sandbox and honeypot technologies. You can quarantine ransomware in a sandbox and then examine the potential consequences of doing so. You may also be able to examine the activities of this form of malware to determine the evasion methods it employs and close the gaps in your cybersecurity protections that result from these tactics.
Stop Ransomware via Group Policy
Make sure that all workstations are configured with Group Policy to display hidden file extensions so that users can notice the double-file extensions (for example, filename.doc.exe) that malicious software uses to hide.
Configure the Application Control policy so that everything is blacklisted and only the software you require is whitelisted.
Configure the Software Restriction policy so that users can only run extensions that have been granted permission. This will prevent dangerous software from being executed.
Disable AutoPlay and Autorun on all workstations by enabling Group Policy on the computer. Either block file execution in e-mail attachments or quarantine all attachments using your spam filter to prevent file execution from taking place.
Use the smart screen and popup blocker capabilities in Internet Explorer to prevent users from being exposed to advertisements that redirect them to harmful websites.
Prepare to Recover from a Ransomware Attack by following these steps.
Regular backups of all of your sensitive data and systems should be performed. Make a backup of your backup files and keep them somewhere safe because ransomware can encrypt backup files if it gets a hold of them. Maintaining current backups will assist you in restoring your vital files as quickly as possible.
File History can be enabled in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1.
Maintain a thorough and up-to-date inventory of all of your servers, workstations, access points, cybersecurity devices, and other company equipment, including their network addresses, so that you can rapidly identify and isolate the source of an attack.
Be Prepared to Recover from a Ransomware Attack
Inspect your file servers for the alteration of large numbers of files with a variety of file extensions in a short period, and take appropriate action. Although ransomware takes some time to encrypt files, you must act immediately to track down the source of the infection. When you locate the originating workstation, you should shut it down quickly to prevent the ransomware from spreading further.
Check the ransomware’s name to be sure it’s not a fake. If the malware is old and has previously been broken by the IT community, you may be able to find useful information on how to recover from it on the internet.
Keep an eye out for system notifications that require you to pay money to decrypt your data; some of these may be bogus demands that have not encrypted any information.
Keep in mind that even the most severe ransomware attacks do not encrypt all of your data.
Don’t give money to the assailants. Even if you are successful in recovering your critical data, they will continue to attack you and force you to pay regularly. If you’ve already made a payment using a credit card, contact your financial institution to have the transaction blocked.
Be Ready to Detect Ransomware Attacks and Perform Effective Response
The following is a list of ransomware removal programs that, when used in conjunction with your antivirus software, will assist you in the identification and removal of ransomware:
A new toolkit from Microsoft called the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET)
Decryptors for ransomware developed by Kaspersky Lab
Introducing Kaspersky’s Anti-Ransomware Tool for the Enterprise.
The decryption solutions provided by AVG
The Ransomware Screen Unlocker Tool from Trend Micro can be downloaded here.
The ransomware decryption tools provided by Avast
McAfee’s Ransomware Interceptor is a malware detection and prevention tool.
See the No More Ransom organization’s list of additional decryption tools for a comprehensive list of available options.
Ransomware Removal Free Tools
Essentially, ransomware is a type of malware that prevents the victim from accessing his or her data (pictures, personal information, papers, backups, etc.) and threatens to publish or erase the data if the victim does not pay a ransom. The decryption key for some ransomware is not difficult to obtain; but, more sophisticated malware employs a tactic known as cryptoviral extortion, which makes it nearly hard to retrieve the victim’s files if they do not have access to the key. Many attacks demand that the ransom be paid in digital currencies like Ukash and Bitcoin, which are difficult to track down and thus make prosecution of the criminals more challenging. In 1989, the first known ransomware attack was carried out. By 2013, the usage of such viruses had grown well-established throughout the world, particularly in the United States.
Background: What Ransomware Is and How It Works
After generating a key pair, the attacker embeds the public key in a malicious piece of software. When the ransomware virus is installed on a computer, it produces a random symmetric key and uses it to encrypt the data on the victim’s hard drive. It encrypts the symmetric key with the help of the public key contained within the malware. After then, the malware presents a message to the user, instructing him or her on how to pay the ransom amount. Upon receiving the payment from the victim, the attacker uses the private key from the key pair to decipher the encrypted symmetric key and then transmits the unencrypted symmetric key to the victim, who can use it to decipher the encrypted contents. However, there is no guarantee that the attackers will provide you with the decryption key.
A Trojan horse is frequently used in ransomware attacks; the virus is disguised as a genuine file that a victim is deceived into downloading or opening when it arrives as a malicious email attachment. Ransomware assaults are becoming increasingly sophisticated. However, one high-profile example, the WannaCry worm, was able to spread autonomously between computers without the involvement of the end-user.