How to protect networks from ransomware
Ransomware attacks have become more common now that criminals know they can be a quick way to make a lot of money.
Hackers don’t need programming skills to launch attacks. They can get code from various hacker groups. Even services exist that collect ransom via Bitcoin for attackers and only require them to pay a fee.
It is often difficult for authorities to find an attacker. Sometimes they are forced to pay ransoms or face being expelled from the business.
Hospitals that fail to back up their vital patient data or are unable to retrieve it within a reasonable time frame will be required to immediately pay the ransom. This is because it is crucial to have access to records for patients who need immediate care. For someone in intensive care, it can be a life-or-death situation.
In 2019, US businesses and government organizations were hit by 966 ransomware attacks, at a potential total cost of $7.5 billion, according to an Emisoft blog.
Organizations must protect their networks now and prioritize resources to avoid becoming ransomware victims. Ransomware attacks are only going to increase and organizations don’t want to be exposed by the media as having to pay a ransom. Customers can lose faith in your ability to protect their data, and companies can experience a drop in revenue or profit if they are made to pay.
7 steps to stop ransomware attacks
It is essential to have a written plan to protect your company from ransomware attacks. These six strategies should be included in your plan.
Training for employees
Employees should be trained on ransomware and the methods attackers use to launch attacks, phishing. Regular training is required.
Devices, apps, and patch servers
Companies must have a procedure for patching network devices, servers, and applications. Many organizations don’t keep up with patching their applications. This is something attackers know and target. For patching to be effective, it is important to review procedures and policies for effectiveness at least once a month.
Antivirus tools for endpoints
It is important to have a plan for antivirus protection on your endpoints. Because ransomware attacks can be detected only by signature-based antivirus programs, it is important to use tools that can detect suspicious behavior. You should also ensure that you have a web filter that prevents drive-by infections. These infections are more common and easy to spot. Users simply need to visit a website with malicious code to become infected.
Backup your data
Ransom payments are often made by ransom-paying organizations that did not have adequate backups. Document your backup process. Your recovery point objective (RPO), and recovery time objective(RTO) should be included in your disaster recovery plan. Every year, test it to ensure that the objectives are met. Business leaders and other stakeholders are required to give input on what an acceptable RPO or RTO should be. Without their input, there is a greater chance of being required to pay the ransom.
Make sure you test your backups
To ensure that all important data is protected, you should regularly test your backups. It is also important to ensure that your backup data is secure from ransomware attacks. Many organizations now use network-based backups. They run their backup devices on the same network (or VLAN) as their production network. To avoid your backup data being compromised by ransomware attacks, this should not be done.
Perform vulnerability assessments
A ransomware attack can be prevented by conducting vulnerability assessments that examine the organization’s security. An assessor should be informed about the threat of ransomware attacks and should examine vulnerabilities not only in applications and servers but also in organizational policies and procedures. This assessment should confirm that ransomware attacks can be prevented by ensuring that appropriate procedures are followed. An annual vulnerability assessment should be performed.
Be alert and watchful for suspicious activity
A plan for preventing ransomware attacks must include procedures to monitor and alert for suspicious activity. Monitoring a network must be done daily. Although many organizations have expensive security tools, logs and events are often not maintained, which makes them ineffective. It is essential to have security personnel review the logs and events to detect or prevent ransomware attacks.
If you detect a ransomware attack
If a ransomware attack is detected, you should record the steps to be taken. You should document all steps in detail. The goal is to stop the spread of ransomware and retrieve any data that was lost. It should also contain a procedure for notifying authorities.
It may be a good idea to include in your ransomware response plan that the device must be shut down gracefully if it is believed to have been infected with ransomware. Many ransomware variants don’t encrypt data until it is rebooted using an attacker’s program. You can recover data if you shut down your computer gracefully.
Once your ransomware response plan has been documented, you can perform a tabletop exercise to verify that it is being followed. This will ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the company’s preparedness to handle any breach.
You must now create a plan to protect your network against ransomware. A successful attack can lead to loss of customers and lower revenue if you don’t have one.
Ransomware attacks are easier than ever. Organizations need to document their plans and test them to stop this from happening.