“Ransomware is more about manipulating vulnerabilities in human psychology than the adversary’s technological sophistication” ― James Scott, Sr. Fellow, Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology
Ransomeware attacks are fast becoming one of the more prominent types of scams and cyber crimes in the United States.
As a matter of fact, ever since the WannaCry Outbreak in 2017 coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, the modern ransomware mania has become so conspicuous that while going about your digital operations on a business day, you are at the risk of unknowingly downloading malware into your computer by simply opening an email attachment, clicking an ad, following a link, or even visiting a website containing malware.
So for a perceptive business owner, it helps to know the basic tenets of Ransomware attacks and some of the essential ways you can protect your business data, digital files, and personal information from these attacks to avoid financial and information losses.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
Two words: “Attack” and “Ransom”. These are the focal points of a Ransomware Attack.
A Ransomware attack takes place when software or malware, to be precise, prevents you from accessing your computer files, systems, or network; and a note pops up letting you know about the attack, the type of data that was stolen, and specified instructions you must follow to gain access to your computer files or network.
More threatening versions of these attacks can even encrypt files and folders on local drives, attached drives, and even networked computers; and use voice features to draw your attention to the ransom instructions which you would have to follow to get the decryption key and your file access.
These ransom instructions could include a link to install the malware on your systems, a statement of the ransom amount, a payment deadline, and how the ransom should be paid.
How to successfully curb Ransomware attacks
Now that there’s a principal understanding of Ransomware attacks and how they work, you definitely do not want to fall victim to these scams as a business owner.
Time for an individual or company equals money, and a Ransomware attack is nothing more than a time-wasting and money-gulping occurrence, even if you try to remove the malware rather than pay the requested ransom.
7 Optimal Ways To Effectively Curb Ransomware Attacks
So here are seven excellent tips to help you get prepared against any such attacks while you’re digitally active:
1. Cybersecurity Awareness and Training
Information is Power, and that is irrefutable in figuring out how to avoid Ransomware attacks. How do we expect to protect ourselves from these attacks if we’re unaware of the techniques used to perpetrate them in the first place?
Ransomware is often spread through phishing emails with socially constructed messages that encourage system users to click on malicious links, so educating your computer system users on how to identify and avoid these types of messages containing potential ransomware attacks could be crucial to the safety of your information.
Also, a recent study of dark web ransomware offerings conducted between November 2021 and March 2022 confirmed that 87% of ransomware brands use malicious macros in Microsoft Office Files to infect devices.
So system users should be aware of the need to keep their macros disabled. Doing this ensures that if you inadvertently click a link and download ransomware, the malicious code won’t install, and you’ll be safe.
Overall, it is highly recommended that Cybersecurity training is undertaken by computer system users looking to protect themselves and their businesses from Ransomware attacks. You will also need to stay aware of the latest ransomware threats, so you know what to look out for at any moment.
2. Consistent System Patching
According to the United States’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a patch is simply “a software and operating system (OS) update that addresses security vulnerabilities within a program or product”. Vulnerability is our keyword here.
Cybercriminals conducting ransomware attacks often search for uncovered security vulnerabilities in system patches. They also target systems that are not yet patched.
As a result, it is more than necessary that computer system owners ensure that their systems have the latest patches applied to them, the latest patches with updates fixing performance bugs, and providing all-enhanced security features.
3. Strong User Authentication
Since the 2017 WannaCry Outbreak, one of the main courses for ransomware attacks has been the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). RDP is a tool that enables you to remotely control your computer system from any place you are in the same manner as you would handle the system if you had it right before you.
Now, imagine someone else having this amount of power over your computer system. Scary, right?
Ransomware attackers are fond of accessing the RDPs of computer system users with stolen user credentials. So having a strong user multi-factor authentication and properly secured ports on your remote desktop software will make it very difficult for an attacker to gain access to your system by using a guessed or even stolen password.
4. Good Anti-Ransomware Solutions
Ransomware attacks cannot cause file encryptions without a unique fingerprint running on the victim’s system, so there are existing Anti-Ransomware solutions that have been built to quickly detect these fingerprints, the ransomware variant at work, and kickstart an automatic restoration of your computer system when these attacks take place.
5. Consistent Database Backups
Ransomware attacks encrypt your data and require you to pay a stated amount of money to get them back. However, if you have an automated and protected data backup, you can quickly recover from an attack with minimal data and financial loss.
This makes it necessary for computer system users to maintain regular data backups. Make it a routine activity, preferably because it is a mostly overlooked but critical practice to help secure your data, so you can quickly recover it following a ransomware attack.
You should also be sure that your data backups are safe and inaccessible so they cannot be modified or deleted from the systems where they’re stored. More threatening versions of Ransomware look for data backups and encrypt or delete them so you cannot recover them, so always use backup systems that do not allow direct access to backup files.
6. Using Secure Networks
Another easy way to avoid Ransomware attacks is by staying off public Wi-Fi networks. Many of these public networks are not secure, and as a result, there are given opportunities for cybercriminals to access your internet usage and spread their ransomware.
To be safe, you might consider installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before connecting to the internet. A VPN provides you with a secure connection to the internet no matter where you go.
7. Cybersecurity Evaluation
Your organization can also perform routine assessments of how well you are prepared to defend against and recover from a ransomware incident. These assessments give a clear view of any existing system vulnerabilities and can help you prevent these attacks from happening in the first place.
Curbing a Ransomware attack can be easy if you have the right tools, which have been served to you on a silver platter. But perhaps you may require technical and professional assistance to deal with certain particulars.
If that’s the case, Security Pro is right here for you. We’re in the business of researching top-tier professionals in all disciplines across digital and physical security and connecting you with them. When you’re ready, book a free consultation with us or contact us to connect to a specialist who can help protect you from these cruel attacks running rampage within the digital space.