Ransomware has become an unfortunate reality in today’s digital world. In the first half of 2021 alone, ransomware attacks had already increased by 151% when compared with the first half of 2020.
This type of cyberattack, where a threat actor encrypts an individual’s or an organization’s files and then requests a ransom in exchange for their decryption, is inherently destructive and leads to massive financial losses. The best way to deal with the threat of ransomware attacks is to be prepared.
Read more: Best Ransomware Protection
How to Detect Ransomware Attacks
One important aspect of combating ransomware attacks is stopping them in their tracks by detecting them before they are able to wreak havoc on your organization. Here are some methods of detecting ransomware attacks.
- Use of privileged access management (PAM): PAM allows organizations to control, monitor, secure, and audit privileged identities and activities in an enterprise IT environment.
- Isolate data: Isolation helps protect sensitive data. By isolating data via backups, you both protect your files and make it easier to detect strange network traffic that wouldn’t normally be directed towards the isolated data.
- Make use of zero trust: Having zero trust policies in place makes it more difficult for hackers to escalate privileges that let them manipulate your network undetected.
- Adaptive monitoring: By carrying out threat hunting, you assume your network has already been compromised and try to seek out and eliminate any present threats.
- Use a cloud access security broker (CASB): CASBs allow organizations to set policies, manage risks, and monitor actions on their networks. This tool secures a full suite of cloud applications.
- Sandbox testing: When working with new or unrecognized files, it is useful to test them out in a sandbox environment first before they are exposed to your network. This can prevent threats from harming your broader network.
Read more: Top Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) Tools
7 Ways to Prevent Ransomware
Detecting ransomware is your last line of defense. Here are some ways to prevent ransomware that can be put into place even before the detection stage.
- Keep software packages up to date: Updated software packages usually include fixes to the very security vulnerabilities that leave your company open to attack.
- Implement measures in a user-friendly manner: If employees have to work too hard to follow security policies, the chances of them bypassing these measures increase.
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA helps to reduce the chances of there being unauthorized access to a company’s network, ensuring network access is only gained through the provision of at least two pieces of information. Typically, one of these is a password and the other is a one-time authorization code.
- Educate employees on the importance of following security guidelines: By making sure staff is aware of the risks, they are more likely to follow security measures and stay vigilant for anomalies while using your network.
- Implement an email spam filter: Many ransomware attacks begin with a malicious email. However, an effective spam filter can greatly reduce the risk of getting attacked by ransomware.
- Backup critical data offline: Backing up in the cloud is convenient. However, having an isolated offline backup is a great way of ensuring potential ransomware attackers are unable to compromise your data.
- Restrict and secure personal devices: Personal devices have the potential to easily introduce threats to a network. They may not be subjected to the same careful scrutiny that office devices are, which can give attackers an easy pathway into your network.
Read more on eSecurity Planet: How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks: 20 Best Practices
What to Do During a Ransomware Attack
In the unfortunate event that your organization is hit by a ransomware attack, there are some steps that you can take to reduce the spread and damage of the ransomware.
- Isolate affected devices: Some types of ransomware spread quietly to other devices on a network. For this reason, if some of your devices have been hit with ransomware, it is critical that you isolate them to ensure other devices don’t get infected.
- Identify the ransomware: Attackers will usually leave behind information in the ransom note and file extensions that is present only after encryption. This can help you to identify the ransomware and move to remediate it.
- Remove the ransomware: If you don’t have enterprise-grade security tools in place, there are free tools online that can help you to remove ransomware from your devices.
- Reset and wipe devices: If no ransomware removal tool is available, then it’s best to reset and wipe any affected devices.
- Restore from backup: You will first need to inspect your backup to ensure it isn’t also infected with ransomware.
Read more: 5 Common Questions About Cybersecurity Exercises, Answered
The Best Prevention Is to Be Prepared
Ransomware attacks are becoming more rampant and can destroy a business. Luckily, there are ways of detecting and preventing ransomware in the first place, such as making use of zero trust policies, using multi-factor authentication, and backing up critical data offline.
While it is preferable to never be infected by ransomware, even if your organization is, there are measures that can be taken to remove it from your organization’s devices. In the event you are attacked, it’s also crucial to learn from this crisis and put better security policies in place to prevent it from happening again.