If there is one thing to be said about ransomware attacks it is that recovering your data encrypted by the attack is next to impossible, so it is best to just properly protect yourself in the first place.
A ransomware attack is when an online attacker, or cybercriminal steals and encrypts a victim’s data, then demands a ransom for its safe return. Originally, ransomware was more of a consumer problem, but in recent years, there has been a drastic rise in the number of businesses and government entities being attacked as well.
Security experts all seem to be in agreement that it is all but impossible to recover stolen data without access to the decryption key or having a backup copy of the unaffected data. Because of this, in an attempt to block threats and mitigate potential damage the need for organizations to have security measures in place is considerably heightened.
It is critical the focus is on prevention, as this is the best way to protect yourself against the potentially devastating damage of ransomware attacks.
The key difference between ransomware and other types of more traditional malware, is that you typically become aware of the problem upon infection where ransomware is concerned.
A robust backup process is the most effective tool to defend you against ransomware attacks. Often, that backup is the only way to recover data aside from paying the demanded ransom. But backups are not the only weapons in your arsenal against cybercriminals, other measures of precaution that can, and should, be taken include:
Organizations are able to minimize this risk by validating the origin of the email before it is even delivered to the intended recipient.
There are many sender technologies available, such as Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance, SPF or Sender Policy Framework, and DomainKeys Identified Mail. These tools can be easily implemented and provide protection against business email being compromised, spear phishing, and other threats commonly found in these deceiving emails. These solutions work by validating the domain and IP address of the server the email originates from. Unfortunately, at this time many companies are failing to implement proper email authentication protocols, and even when they do, the policies are not strict enough. Contaminated emails still make their way into the junk folders or are simply quarantined. These threats need to be rejected from the system altogether to be effective.
Blocking ads on user systems, or preventing users from accessing certain sites on the Internet, even implementing a secondary network for them to access the Internet, will all help reduce the risks associated with this type of ransomware.
The rapid overwriting of files is a major indication of ransomware on a network. This can be monitored by using a tool that monitors activity, and is strongly recommended as a measure of precaution. Such early detection allows organizations to more easily contain the damage that could be caused by the ransomware, and provides the opportunity to go into quarantine mode, preventing the infected machine from connecting to any other file servers.
Because of this, having a response plan is critical. The plan should include details on how to best respond in the event of a ransomware attack. It is important to take inventory of your critical assets, know where these assets are located, and evaluate the potential impact if these assets were to become lost, stolen, or compromised in some way, making that data unavailable to you. The chaos that ensues after a ransomware attack is one of the worst components of the whole ordeal, and having a well-thought-out response plan can eliminate that aspect of the pandemonium.