How To Prevent A Ransomware Attack
Ransomware is a class of malware that employs encryption to scramble or delete the victim’s data so that they cannot access files, databases, or applications. The purpose of ransomware is to extort money from the victim with the promise of restoring encrypted data. Cybercriminals will threaten to perpetually delete or block access to critical business data until a ransom is paid, hence the name.
Ransomware is a growing threat, with potential targets ranging from business entities to government systems and even individual users. According to the Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, 27% of malware security incidents in 2020 involved ransomware. Ransomware can be extremely damaging, which is why you need to take every precaution to avoid an attack.
Don’t Pay the Ransom
In the event of a ransomware attack, giving in to the attackers’ demands might feel like the only way out of a terrible situation. But paying only serves to encourage these attackers. Worse still, submitting the ransom doesn’t guarantee access to the affected files. Do not pay the ransom. Instead, invest these funds in your security infrastructure to keep ransomware attacks from occurring in the first place.
As far as ransomware goes, prevention is better than cure. And it’s cheaper, too. The most effective way to prevent ransomware is to develop a proactive approach to cybersecurity and make sure that you have strong protections in place. Here are some of the security precautions you can take to ward off ransomware attacks.
Security Awareness Training
Like many other types of malware, ransomware finds its way into networks by exploiting human weakness. Attackers can bypass your organization’s security infrastructure with ransomware by targeting people with phishing attacks. Email is a common attack vector. Attackers will use phishing emails to trick users into opening infected files or malicious links, inadvertently downloading ransomware onto their devices.
The problem is that most users don’t know what threats look like. They don’t know what types of files they shouldn’t download or open on the internet or email. This apparent lack of awareness helps ransomware get into your system and spread more quickly. Security awareness training can help educate people within your organization about the risks they face online.
Training will help your users learn about the most common phishing attacks in circulation. They’ll know what to look for in an email before they click on a link or an attachment. The training program will also cover the best security practices to follow in the event of a ransomware attack. Since most ransomware is distributed through email, learning to prevent phishing is one of the most effective ways to avoid ransomware attacks.
Screen Your Emails
When it comes to defending your company against email threats, security awareness training is only the first step. Use email filtering and content scanning tools to identify threats and block them from being delivered to the users’ inboxes. Screening your emails can help you block potentially malicious or unwanted links that direct users to malicious websites.
That way, you can stop users from inadvertently downloading ransomware onto their devices. Some hackers attempt to bypass email security filters by hiding ransomware within attachments containing archived or compressed files. Make sure that your email filtering and content scanning tools are capable of scanning archived or compressed files.
Install Antivirus Software
Having a robust endpoint security solution, such as antivirus, is one of the most important ways to prevent a ransomware attack. You can install antivirus on most endpoint devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers, to block ransomware from infecting your systems. Antivirus solutions can alert users when they are visiting risky websites and protect against malicious downloads.
Antivirus software also gives system administrators the ability to see which devices have been compromised and take steps to minimize the damage. Keep in mind that malware authors are always coming up with clever ways to get around security tools, and antivirus solutions don’t guarantee protection. However, endpoint security is vital to mounting a strong defense against ransomware attacks.
Turn On Windows Firewall
Ransomware can infect your system in many ways. While most ransomware attacks start with a phishing email, a substantial portion leverage vulnerabilities in your system to gain a foothold in the network. A firewall can protect your system from unauthorized access, such as a ransomware actor attempting to infect your system. If you are using a Windows computer, turn Windows Firewall and keep it properly configured at all times to prevent ransomware attacks.
Keep Multiple Backups
So far, we’ve only discussed ways to prevent ransomware attempts. But what if a ransomware actor succeeds in their attempt and your data is compromised? Well, do not pay the ransom. If you have a backup, you can quickly reimage your disks to thwart ransomware and then restore from the last good backup. As you can see, having a backup allows you to stop a ransomware attack in progress.
When it comes to creating a data backup, it helps if you have more than one. Back up your data in multiple places such as the cloud, local disks, and your main storage area. Cloud data backup and recovery, in particular, is crucial to remediating against ransomware. With multiple backups in place, you can mitigate the loss of data and regain system functionality in no time.
Keep Your Software Up To Date
Many hacking attempts and cyberattacks try to exploit vulnerabilities within your apps and third-party plugins. Keeping your software updated can help prevent attackers from infiltrating your systems through security gaps in your installed software. Applying the latest patches to all your software, including the operating systems, apps, and third-party plugins, will help close security holes that ransomware authors are looking to exploit.
Don’t let ransomware ruin your company. The security practices discussed in this article can mitigate the risk of ransomware and help your business quickly restore operations in an attack. Based in Sarasota, FL, IT Network Solutions can help you protect your Florida business against ransomware. If you want help with learning how to prepare ahead of a ransomware attack, get in touch with us today.