How to Protect your Business from Ransomware in 2021
The World is preparing itself for a full onslaught from hackers using Ransomware. The events of 2020 have caused a fundamental change in working patterns, and that has surfaced several user and data security challenges. The likes of WannaCry, Ryuk and Petya are all destructive pieces of Ransomware that have caused businesses significant issues.
The main concern about Ransomware is that it is destructive, aggressive, and spreads fast! It is very unforgiving, and once activated, it can close down your businesses in hours. For example, in 2020, Ransomware cost businesses over USD20 Billion worth of disruption, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is specifically created software that has a destructive consequence on systems that it executes on. The ransomware creators have only one agenda in mind; to disrupt then hold you ransom. Failure to comply with them means that all your data will be irrecoverable, and unless you have secure data backups to recover from, you will experience significant disruption and even lose your business.
What are the types of Ransomware?
Ransomware attacks generally have a software parent that the creator names. Most common examples of ransomware include;
How does Ransomware work?
Believe it or not, Ransomware is very simple to create and spread. The encryption function that many think is the complicated part is actually embedded within the operating system. In essence, all the Ransomware application is doing is executing several instructions that the operating system must follow. Those hackers who want to be elaborate will code the encryption framework that is usually open-source and package them in the application, which also has the benefit of going undetected by anti-virus solutions. However, the more complicated the Ransomware, the faster the Anti-virus solution providers can reverse engineer the payload characteristics and update their scan engines.
Ransomware generally arrives in an email attachment or a link on the Internet. A user will normally have to click on the link to initiate the first phase of the attack. This phase is where the Ransomware will download and install. If the user is logged in as an Administrator, then the Ransomware will execute and release its complete payload. The next phase of the attack will connect to the Internet to receive further instructions from the Command+Control centre that all Ransomware operates via. If no updates or additional instructions are needed, then the Ransomware will have encrypted all the data and sent a copy of some critical information from that attack. It will then display a Ransomware message on the user’s screen, informing them of the attack success and how they can decrypt the data. This usually results in a cryptocurrency payment to a specific address for the hackers to send back a decryption key.
How does Ransomware infect my device?
A link or attachment will likely be the cause of the entry. Documents / Extensions arriving as PDF’s, Excel documents, JPEGs or EXEs are the primary carriers of the Ransomware and used due to familiarity.
Another mechanism that is piggybacked off links is what we now call Social Engineering. Hackers will attempt to target users using their behavioural habits, which they will have researched. The likes of Facebook and Instagram are often used as a means to dupe the user
How fast does Ransomware work?
Once the attack has started, the Ransomware can take minutes, hours, days, months, or years to show its true effects. The recent SolarWinds attack is an excellent example of state-sponsored cyberattacks using Ransomware and security vulnerabilities.
How to Protect your Business from Ransomware attacks?
Ransomware prevention must be on every business owner’s priority list. There are a handful of strategies you must implement to reduce your cyber threat exposure significantly. Below are eight strategies you can adopt;
1. User training and awareness: Your Employees are your most significant security assets. They can be your firewalls, or they can be your security compromise. Users are only as good as the training and awareness, so make sure this is addressed company wide.
2. Data backup and recovery: Do you have a complete backup and recovery process that is validated regularly? You are only as good as your last backup, so ensuring your recovery is optimal should be a necessary daily operational check.
3. Identity Access and Management: Have a role-based access management system in place whereby your users have the least number of permissions needed to perform their roles. This will ensure that any potential ransomware compromise has a reduce impact to execute. The use of MFA on accounts should also be introduced as a standard functionality.
4. Patch Management: Always ensure your IT operations team have a patch management policy in place. This must cover all devices, operating systems, applications, and hardware. This will ensure that any vulnerabilities are patched so hackers cannot exploit them.
5. Web and link security: Put in solutions that scan for web traffic and links in emails before them being opened. Many of today’s solutions can examine links and check for anything suspicious well before a user has attempted to click on it.
6. Anti-Virus security: Ensure you have anti-virus and anti-malware software in place across your infrastructure. Firewalls and servers are key attack vectors, so ensuring they are protected will reduce Ransomware execution risk.
7. Secure Data: Ensure all your data is secured, and where needed, encrypted. The likes of HTTPS/TLS and AES should be employed.
8. Penetration testing: Ensure that you have continuous penetration and vulnerability testing internally and externally. Doing so will identify issues that may not otherwise surface.
How to Recover from Ransomware?
Would “Don’t get infected in the first place” be an unfair answer? Unfortunately, we have found that the majority of businesses that get affected by Ransomware could have avoided the attack by employing some basic strategies that we have discussed in this article. If you get infected by Ransomware, then call a cybersecurity specialist to help recover from the attack.
What is the best defence against Ransomware?
Don’t get it! By following some of the strategies in this article, you will reduce your risk exposure significantly. Ensuring you have the right security solutions, processes and operational capabilities in place will go along way in keeping your data and assets safe.
We hope this article has gone a long way in informing you what you need to do to reduce your risk of Ransomware.
If you like the sound of the ‘hands-off’ experience and having your IT taken care of by highly trained professionals, we would love to hear from you. You can find us at https://teckgenius.co.uk , where you’ll discover our full range of services that help you leverage the power of technology whilst enjoying the cost-savings that it brings.
Call our friendly team of experts on 0345 314 2001 for a relaxed chat about how we can make all this happen for you. Our team is ready and waiting to help in any way they can.