THE NEED FOR RANSOMWARE PROTECTION
Ransomware can be used for cyberextortion. Ransomware is a type of crypto-malware that holds victims’ computers or files hostage by using encryption. It demands payment to decrypt the files and give access to the victim’s device. Ransomware is typically spread via phishing attacks that contain malicious email attachments, infected programs, or links to compromised websites. Ransomware attacks are now targeting businesses. They encrypt entire networks of computers and files, stopping business operations until the ransom is paid. In 2016, ransomware attacks stole millions from businesses and end-users, prompting the FBI’s April advisory about the growing ransomware threat.
The infected system locks the computer and encrypts files, preventing the user from accessing the necessary features. A pop-up window will typically appear when a user attempts to use infected machines. It informs them that they must pay a specified amount to recover their computer and associated data. In an attempt to intimidate victims, ransomware programs or cyber criminals pretend to be government agencies and demand payment.
Businesses and individuals need to be aware of ransomware attacks and adhere to best practices in ransomware protection. Enterprises and employees have many options to help protect sensitive company data from ransomware attacks.
TIPS AND BEST PRACTICES TO PROTECT RANSOMWARE
- Employee education is key to avoiding ransomware. Ransomware can be spread via email attachments or links. Employees need to have the information they need to protect themselves and their computers from ransomware attacks. Employees should be taught how they can recognize phishing attacks and best practices like not opening attachments or linking in emails from unknown senders, checking URLs, and never clicking on pop-up windows. Employees should receive ongoing training, not just a one-off session. This will ensure they are up to date with the latest threats and have secure habits.
- Backup your files frequently and regularly: A diligent backup process can help reduce the damage from ransomware attacks. Encrypted data can be restored without having to pay a ransom.
- The principle of least privilege is important. Providing unlimited access to software and networks can be dangerous for the organization’s security. It can also cause a lot of mishaps due to employees accessing programs and features that they do not require. Only grant employees access rights that are necessary for their job.
- Maintain your operating system and all software current. Software updates often contain security patches and should be installed immediately after they become available. To speed up the process, enable automatic updates whenever you can.
- Disable features such as autorun, remote desktop connection, and macro content within Microsoft Office applications. These features are not necessary but can be used by attackers to spread ransomware or other malware.
- Pay ransoms only if necessary. Not only does it make you a target for future attacks, but it also leads to data breaches at other organizations. Avoid paying ransoms unless you have no choice.
RANSOMWARE PROTECTION SOLUTIONS
To improve the security of their systems against ransomware attacks, businesses should implement ransomware prevention solutions in addition to the best practices. Ransomware protection that relies on signature-based security is often ineffective as new ransomware programs emerge all the time. Ransomware protection today requires a multi-pronged approach. This includes user education and solutions for ransomware detection and prevention. Solutions such as advanced malware protection and endpoint detection, response offer behavior-based detection and blockage of ransomware attacks. These solutions go beyond signature-based detection. Many enterprises also use application whitelisting to increase ransomware protection. This allows specific applications to run and reduces the chance of ransomware programs running on local machines.