Ransomware attacks have become increasingly prevalent in recent years because of two reasons- 1) not all companies report attacks carried on them and 2) most of the organisations end up paying the ransom in the fear of losing their data. Therefore, organisations must undertake protective measures to prevent any potential attacks.
Cybercriminals do not go after specific targets and can attack any individual or organisation, from any sector. The probability of being attacked depends on how valuable your data is, which is why organisations such as hospitals, financial institutions, law firms, and government agencies commonly find themselves as victims of ransomware attacks.
There are different types of ransomwares cybercriminals use to achieve their monetary objectives. Unfortunately, having complete immunity to ransomware attacks is impossible. However, you can take precautionary steps to implement appropriate safety measures, which will not only save you from needing to pay a colossal ransom to attackers but also prevent your systems and data from falling into the wrong hands.
What is meant by Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware, and once it enters your system, it prevents you from using or viewing your data and files. It is one of the most dangerous security threats any organisation can encounter and recovering from a ransomware attack is no easy task.
Cybercriminals tend to exploit, trick, and mislead users into accessing malicious links or downloading malicious software onto their systems, which allows the attacker to gain control of the device and files.
Ignorance and inadequate understanding regarding security threats are organisational weaknesses cybercriminals seek to exploit. Attackers do this by denying organisations access to devices or files using encryption. To regain access, the attackers demand that victims pay a ransom fee.
What are the different types of Ransomware?
There are various types of ransomware that attackers employ to demand their ransom; however, 2 of the most popular choices are encryption and lockers compared to other major attacks.
Using this method, attackers encrypt a system’s files and data, making it impossible for the victim to access it without a decryption key. They promise to provide the victim with the decryption key in exchange for a ransom.
Cybercriminals use ‘lockers’ to lock users out of their devices and make their data unreachable. A lock screen notifies the victim that their access is shut down; the screen also displays messages regarding the demand for ransom that the victim must pay to gain access to their device.
This type of ransomware is also referred to as leakware; using this type of malware, attackers threaten the victim to make their data public if they do not pay the ransom.
RaaS, also known as ransomware as a service, is used by cybercriminals with less technical knowledge and skills. It provides them with the opportunity to execute ransomware attacks on individuals or organisations by using the services provided by professional hackers in exchange for a share in the ransom amount collected. The developers of the malware remain anonymous throughout the attack. However, manage all the steps involved in the attack, from infecting the system, collecting the ransom, to reinstating access.
Before launching any attack, most cybercriminals search for ways to infect the system they want to target. The use of phishing emails is one of the most common ways attackers employ to accomplish that objective. The phishing emails will usually contain a malicious link or attachment prompting you to click or download it. Once downloaded, the attacker can take hold of valuable data and the system.
Now that you have familiarised yourself with what ransomware means and its different types, it is time to look at ways to prevent any such attacks.
How to prevent Ransomware
The best time to start is today, as once the attacker gains access to your systems, you aren’t left with any good options other than forcibly agreeing to pay the ransom itself.
Although advanced security demands higher-level skills and knowledge, there are still many easy and inexpensive steps you can follow as a starting point to prevent yourself from ransomware attacks.
1. Employee education:
Educating your staff regularly on preventing malware from entering the systems should be every organisation’s first and foremost priority. Second, on the list of priorities is to establish a culture centred around cyber education so employees can spot and recognise malicious emails and links as they come through.Ensure implementation of updated email filtering rules and frequently remind all employees to refrain from clicking on links or downloading attachments within emails from unknown sources. By providing employees with educational tools provides organisational defence against such attacks.
2. Organise and maintain frequent backups:
By creating a backup, you create a digital version of your most valuable data and store it on an external storage device or in the cloud. Backups cannot stop attacks from occurring; however, they can reduce the severity of the damage caused. Frequent offline and cloud backups prove to be one of the best ways when recovering from ransomware attacks.
3. Enable automatic updates:
You must always keep your system and applications up to date. Manually updating the system and applications is accessible at an individual level; however, at an organisational level, it is logical to turn on the automatic updates for systems and applications so that the process does not require input from individual users each time. For maximum security, ensure your system is patched and up to date.
4. Download attachment only from senders you recognise:
Don’t be manipulated into installing ransomware. Refrain from installing any software or programs sent over email and never grant administrative permissions to any program unless you are entirely aware and confident about what the program is.
5. Install anti-malware:
Ransomware is continuously being developed and updated by its creators; however, this should not stop you from installing anti-malware software. Each of us needs to have a minimum of one anti-malware software running on our system. Anti-malware software cannot protect you entirely from ransomware attacks but can block a wide variety of attacks. It helps protect your data by restricting the download of any software which poses a risk of stealing your data.
6. Application whitelisting:
Application whitelisting ensures that only pre-approved software (by IT staff or by someone responsible for overseeing and implementing security measures) can be used on the organisations system. By having this approval step in place, you can keep yourself ahead of the attackers. It also proves to be an excellent guard against corrupt applications that the staff or users may try to install on their devices unintentionally or intentionally because application whitelisting restricts downloads of applications not authorised by the IT staff.
Prevent Ransomware Attacks with F1 Solutions
Ransomware attacks have the potential to wreak significant damage to business reputations. Such attacks are practically impossible to stop or avoid as these events are highly unpredictable. However, the best way individuals and businesses can prevent themselves from becoming victims is by preparing for it.
F1 Solutions protects Australian businesses from security breaches or events, taking swift action in the event of an attack.
Take steps to protect your business, implement efficient data protection, and adopt strong cyber security policies to limit destruction and expedite recovery.
Contact our customer-friendly team today to learn more.