Ransomware Protection - Essential Steps for Safeguarding Your Data

Last Updated:
August 18, 2023
Kay Nicole

Ransomware Protection - Essential Steps for Safeguarding Your Data

Ransomware blocks access to data and systems by encrypting files. Attackers typically demand a ransom payment in exchange for decryption keys, but paying a fee offers no guarantee that victims will get their data back. So implementing ransomware protection is essential for prevention.

Keep these cybersecurity best practices in mind to thwart ransomware attacks. For example, train employees on spotting suspicious email attachments and use anti-phishing technology to prevent attackers from gaining credentials.

Invest in Anti-Ransomware Software

One of the effective ransomware strategies is to have a strong cybersecurity program that includes detection, response and remediation capabilities. This should also have an anti-ransomware component.

Ensure your software updates regularly to close the security gaps attackers seek to exploit. For example, CIS Control 4 recommends enabling auto-updates to ensure that your organization's operating systems and applications are always up-to-date with the latest security patches. Another way to protect your organization is to implement a "least privilege" access model, which limits user permissions to only those functions and files needed to do their jobs. This can prevent attackers from spreading ransomware across systems by limiting their attack surface. Training is also an important tool to help reduce infection risk. By teaching employees to identify cyber threats like ransomware, they can be more likely to recognize suspicious emails and avoid clicking on infected links or attachments. It's also important to turn off file sharing, as this can give attackers a pathway into your environment. By preventing users from transferring data between computers, you can prevent the spread of ransomware and other threats. Finally, it's important to promptly report any ransomware incidents or other cyberattacks to authorities and industry organizations. Doing so can help others learn from the incident, increase ransomware protection measures, and prevent similar attacks from happening to their businesses.

Create a Backup Plan

Backups are one of the most important tools to help you recover from a ransomware attack. However, hackers have found ways to stop you from restoring backup files by encrypting them. To combat this, make sure to follow the 3-2-1 rule of backups. This includes creating at least two copies of your data on multiple media types, one stored offline. In addition, consider using an air-gapped backup, which is disconnected from the network and not accessible to cybercriminals. This is the best way to keep your files safe from ransomware attacks. While backups are an essential line of defense in ransomware protection, they aren't the only protection your organization needs. Creating a multi-prong approach to stopping ransomware in its tracks will decrease the impact of an attack, enabling you to recover faster and avoid paying ransom. This includes leveraging preventive measures such as anti-malware software that scans incoming files and email security solutions that monitor emails for malicious attachments. It's also critical to educate end users and provide ongoing security awareness training so they are prepared for potential threats and know how to report suspicious activities.

Keep Your Backups Up-to-Date

When ransomware protections fall short and a ransomware infection happens, the best recovery method is to restore from backups. As such, it's important that you follow a strong backup strategy and regularly back up your files to external storage devices or the cloud. Make sure to physically disconnect the external storage device or the cloud from your network after backing up so that it can't be infected by the same malware that infected your computer. Ransomware is frequently spread through insecure or fraudulent websites and software downloads. In addition, many types of ransomware use exploit kits to gain illicit access to a network. As such, you should ensure that all hardware and software assets connected to your network are patched and updated with the latest security patches. You should also ensure your security solutions can scan compressed or archived files for ransomware payloads. Ransomware actors often encrypt their malicious payloads in these files to avoid detection by standard antivirus tools and spam filters. Finally, end-users need to be educated and trained to spot suspicious attachments. They should never be told to open passions that prompt them to run macros, as these could infect the machine and spread throughout the organization. Additionally, they should be encouraged to report suspicious behavior to the IT team.

Restore Your Data

If you suffer a ransomware attack, it's critical to remember that restoring your data is the last step in recovering from a ransomware infection. This means having a recovery plan ensures your organization can return to business as usual as soon as possible. Ensure that all devices in your network are protected with anti-ransomware software. In addition, all software should be updated to the latest version provided by the manufacturer. Keeping your operating systems and third-party applications updated closes known vulnerabilities targeted by ransomware attackers. Backups are essential for minimizing a ransomware attack's impact, so ensure your team performs full backups regularly. Backups should also be stored in multiple locations, such as on-premise and cloud technologies. Diversification of backups helps minimize the impact of a ransomware attack and speed up recovery. Employees should also exercise good cyber hygiene by not opening unsolicited attachments or clicking on links from untrustworthy sources.

Additionally, all employees should be trained to recognize the signs of a phishing scam and take appropriate action as part of your ransomware protection by prevention. For example, if a suspicious email or phone call requests personal information, employees should not respond and should notify IT right away. Lastly, your teams should work together to prevent and mitigate threats and attacks, including collaborating to test your backups.

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