Every year, an increasing number of ransomware cases are reported, costing businesses billions of dollars. Surely, you would never want to be a part of the list. So, how can you save your business from ransomware attacks? Though the risk of ransomware attacks cannot be minimized by 100%, it is possible to avoid the same with a good defense strategy. Here we present the ultimate checklist that you can instantly use to devise your anti-ransomware moves.
1. A Secure Data
Backup is MANDATORY Data backup is the most essential measure to avoid any potential data loss caused by a ransomware attack. A good defense strategy includes frequent data backup. If encountered with an attack, immediately turn down all the data endpoints and reinstall the last backup to stop ransomware attacks from spreading further across the systems and networks. Removing the ransomware from the system means wiping the whole data out; hence, a backup is mandatory to swiftly recover the system after an attack. The higher the frequency of your data back is, the lesser will be your data loss. Let your CIO determine the backup frequency by analyzing the nature of your business data and its strategic importance. Using encrypted devices, the backup data must be stored on external storage that should not be connected or synchronized with the attached encrypted devices.
Regularly If your Information team is running outdated software having known vulnerabilities, your network is an easy target for ransomware attackers as they can easily access such weak networks. Inconsistent patching and using outdated software put the infrastructure at risk. The software must be updated regularly and patching must be done by a reliable third-party software like Flash or Java, to prevent attacks.
3. Let Your Users Know Possible Attack Sources
Do you know what is the weakest element to be exploited in a system security chain? It’s Human. By opening a phishing email or infected document, an employee can bring a huge risk to the system. Hence, educate all your system users for social engineering risk situations. Attackers often use phishing emails and file attachments as they target people’s natural temperament of opening their mailbox and downloading documents. All your users must know the answers to the following questions before opening any suspicious email or document:
- Is the sender in my email list?
- Do I need to open this email or file or click this link?
- Did I order something from this sender?
4. Network Protection
Using a layered protocol approach based on technologies like Intrusion prevention system (IPS) and next-generation firewall (NGFW), you can well protect your network. This places many security measures across all your network areas. By avoiding a single point of failure, you can seamlessly enhance the security of your network and data.
5. Segmented Access to Network
Through a segmented network access approach, you can significantly limit the data an attacker can access. Based on a logical algorithm, this approach categorizes network resources, assets, and applications into sectional areas, which regulates the data access and ensures that the whole network is not affected in case of an attack. The irony is that most of today’s corporate networks are still flat, meaning they don’t have a segmentation based on business units, business users, and data. Through effective segmentation, you can make your system less prone to attacks and data loss.
6. Monitor the Network Activity
Having a sound and clear network visibility is critical to protect the system. Closely and constantly monitoring the network and data center activities with a timely-alert mechanism, helps detect the risks in advance and filter the internal environment on time. One way to do it is to implement a demilitarized zone (DMZ), a tangible rational sub-network that adds an additional security layer to your LAN. It provides direct access of an external network node to the servers contained in DMZ only.
7. Stop initial infiltration
Users can accidentally open affected sites and emails containing malvertising, which brings a threat of malware. An initial ransomware attack is usually attempted via email attachment or suspicious download. Blocking such websites, attachments, and emails, especially from unknown senders, should be a vital element of your anti-ransomware strategy to keep the system protected. Educate the users to use only company-approved encrypted file-sharing procedures.
8. Strengthen your Endpoints Security
Already installed an antivirus at your endpoints? However, it is not enough to avoid ransomware. Deploy a Bring-Your-own-device (BYOD) approach that grants you full control over your devices including tablets, desktops, laptops, and mobile phones entering the network. Your BYOD solution should:
- Provide enough visibility of the devices being connected to the network
- Help enforce measures that stop users from opening suspicious websites and downloading affected files
You can also implement the “ limited access” idea, whereby, giving only the most needed network access to accounts as per their tasks’ requirements. This is because the ransomware usually tends to find the access level of the currently logged in user. If the user is the administrator, the attacker can have all those rights too. Hence, always implement two-factor authentication. The hacker might exploit the passwords but cannot steal the smartphone or the code at the same time.
9. Real-time Intelligence
Reporting Risk intelligence monitoring and reporting let you know your potential enemies and keep your team alert for the potential attackers targeting the industry, region, or even specific businesses.
10. Be Bold to Say “No”
Though many organizations tend to pay ransom to regain their system’s controls, this should not be the first option. Businesses must report the attacks to the relevant authorities first and avoid making these cybercriminals strong by paying the ransom. This ultimate checklist helps you make strong anti-ransomware strategies and put the relevant policies in place. Redefine your defense strategy and keep your network safe from the malicious attacks that are increasing in number day by day.