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Imagine you found a message on your computer with the following demands. "We have encrypted your files with an AES-256 encryption algorithm; if you want to see them again, pay $100000 in bitcoin to this address". Many thoughts may run in your mind; my work computer or my entire business runs on that data. It is a nightmare that no business or self-employed person wants to encounter. Unfortunately, the prevalence of ransomware has been increasing day and night.
To make matters worse, Ransomware as a Service is slowly gaining traction. In this model, hackers create ransomware, and users having no technical acquiescence can subscribe and target various installations and individuals. Three groups are responsible for 60% of the ransomware attacks in 2021, according to the Cognyte Cyber threat intelligence report. They include; Evil, Conti, and Avaddon. In this post, we will look at various tips that you can use to protect your business from Ransomware attacks.
1. Train your employees
Ransomware attacks begin by targeting individuals within a company. A good percentage of companies and cyber security experts agree that training employees effectively deter ransomware attacks. Thus, you must train your employees to detect them for you to maintain data security. We can do this through workshops with cyber security experts and regular training sessions to keep your employees updated. Encourage your employees to contact the IT department if they get suspicious emails, have downloaded or clicked a suspicious file, or do not understand what to look for. When you invest in awareness training, you create vigilance among the employees. They stay on the lookout to avoid phishing attempts through emails, malicious links, and other dangerous behaviors online that can leave you vulnerable.
2. Adopt a Password management system
How do you manage and store passwords in your business? Do you have a password management policy? Many businesses do not think twice about the passwords they use to protect their digital accounts and computers. To illustrate this, let us look at the following critical statistics; 47% of the people use a five-year-old or above password, while another 53% use a similar password for multiple accounts. The best practice is to use a different password for different accounts online and update them periodically. This can effectively thwart any credential stuffing attack or a ransomware attack. With rising incidences of brute force attacks, having a secure password management system can be a vital deterrence to these ransomware attacks.
3. Keep your firewall & antivirus updated
With the increase in the sophistication of cyber-attacks, the security software keeps changing. Top-quality security software can help detect and protect you from an attack before it even happens. Your security solution must include; malware, antivirus, firewall, and ransomware protection. Regularly update your software to install the latest malware signatures for detection and protection. Security researchers regularly update threat databases, and installing updated protection solutions may differ between safety and several million-dollar ransomware.
4. Perform daily Backups
In a ransomware attack, a backup point lets you restore your system to an earlier state and date. By regularly backing up your data, we minimize the chances of loss of work and data. When an attacker requests a ransom, you can relax knowing that the data they claim to have locked is resting securely on another server or hard drive. However, this works only if you correctly back up your data. A ransomware attacker can find their way into your backup system by going through your desktop and worming into your backup system. Therefore, the backup system must not be connected directly to your system. You only need to connect the server or hard drive to your system when backing up your data, and even then, scan your system first. You can also have a secondary backup, a backup of the backup.
5. Restrict user access
The company should limit its employee data and information access to absolutely what they need to carry out their tasks. By limiting access to the network, you limit the amount of data that the ransomware can access. This can be the defining moment. It can mean the difference between a minor data loss or a complete loss if you do not pay the ransomware. Upon suspecting that there could be an attack happening, you can isolate the device under attack and save your business from a cyber attack like a ransomware attack.
6. Update your hardware and software
Ransomware finds its way into a system by exploiting existing vulnerabilities within a system. Unfortunately, many businesses and individuals still use legacy hardware and software. With the existing unpatched security vulnerabilities, they quickly fall prey to ransomware attacks. A typical example of this is hospitals that use legacy MRI systems that still run on Windows XP. Ensure that you use updated systems with the latest security patches installed on your system. You should also avoid using unsupported systems like Windows XP and Windows 7. Such unsupported systems may have unpatched vulnerabilities that ransomware attackers may use to infiltrate your system. Ensure that adobe, java, and flash are updated consistently and patched to prevent hackers from exploiting their vulnerabilities. Ensure that you install the latest software releases to your system. It helps overcome ransomware attacks from zero-day exploits.
7. Implement email content scan & filter
Content scanning systems scan for and block phishing attempts coming through emails. Content scanning and filtration systems also block emails having Suspicious attachments and links originating from sources or senders who are unknown. It helps limit the number of attacks attempts and reduces the chances of someone downloading the ransomware to their computer. It is among the best ways of protecting your business from a ransomware attack because many are distributed via emails.
To protect your organization from ransomware attacks, ensure that you take proactive security measures. To secure your data and system, you need both time and money. With the prevalence of ransomware attacks hitting new levels daily, you must take measures to protect businesses from them. However, note that this is a shared responsibility between you as the owner and your employees. Therefore, training your employees about proper practices to protect your business from various attacks like account takeover is necessary. Take up the above steps to fortify your business against ransomware attacks, and your business will be in a better position than it was before.