There is no doubt that ransomware attacks have been common for a few decades but the frequency and their disaster has increased. Upon hearing the word ransomware, people often think that the operators of ransomware only demand ransom to give you back your data and system. Yes, this is very common but ransomware attacks have also evolved into general extortion attacks. The attackers are now stealing sensitive data (yours and your customers’) and threatening to disclose or sell it on the dark web or internet. Moreover, after one successful attempt, they often hold onto this data for later extortion attempts and future attacks. Therefore, in situations like this, you are left with only limited options for ransomware recovery.
It is also seen that there is a common perception that ransomware is constrained to basic crypto-locker-style attacks. And these attacks only affect a single computer at a time (also known as the commodity model). But the reality is totally different, today’s attackers have evolved far beyond this. They are now using toolkits and sophisticated affiliate business models to target whole organizations. They do this by infiltrating into your advanced security with the help of admin credentials. This maximizes the threat of business damage to your organization. The ransomware operators often buy login credentials from other attack groups. Hence, to keep your data and systems safe, follow the following steps besides hiring services of cyber security solutions.
How Can Ransomware Infect Your System?
Ransomware can enter your network and system in various ways. One of the most common methods internet extortionists uses for ransomware is to send malicious emails. These emails either contain an infected attachment or an infected link. Clicking on the link or installing the attachment starts the process of ransomware. Generally, these emails appear safe and provocative and you are compelled to interact with them.
Another common tactic bad actors use in order to launch their attacks is to inject spam through malicious advertisements. Typically, ransomware operators buy out advertising space on a legitimate online platform to showcase their offerings. However, these ads redirect the users toward a malicious website or result in downloading an attachment that can destroy your advanced security strategy. Furthermore, to your surprise, sometimes a system gets hijacked even if the user does not click on these ads. This is called the ‘drive-by-download’ attack. In this method, a victim only has to pass through the advertisement to get caught in the whirlwind.
The severity of these attacks also varies from randomly occurring pop-ups and complete lockout of your system to encrypting the data. The latter is the most common type of ransomware as once the perpetrators get hold of your data, there are very few ways to recover them without paying a ransom. However, sometimes when you pay the attackers their demanded amount, cybercriminals don’t return your data.
Steps You Can Follow to Prevent Attacks and Ensure Ransomware Recovery:
Following are the three ways you can opt to keep your organization safe from the damages of ransomware attacks.
Devise a Recovery Plan for Your Organization:
You need to plan for the worst-case scenario and expect that it can happen at any level of the organization. Restoring data from backups is not only less costly than paying the ransomware operators, but it can get you back in business more quickly. Furthermore, paying ransom is an uncertain path; you have no guarantee that the attackers’ key will work on all your files.
Therefore, keep backups of all your sensitive data and for increased safety, keep them offline or offsite. Also, test the ‘recover from zero’ scenario and ensure that your business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) can rapidly bring critical business operations online from zero functionality. With the help of cyber security solutions, you should also protect supporting documents and systems required for recovery, including restoration-procedure documents.
Limit the Scope of Damage by Protecting Privileged Roles:
You must ensure strong controls (prevent, detect, respond) for privileged accounts, such as IT admins and other roles with control of business-critical systems. Doing so will either slow down the process of attack or block the attackers from gaining complete access to steal and encrypt your resources. You can make this happen by enabling elevated security for privileged accounts; tightly protecting, closely monitoring, and rapidly responding to incidents related to these roles.
Make it Harder to Get into Your Systems:
Prevent a ransomware operator from entering your environment. You can do this by identifying and executing quick wins that can strengthen security controls. This will help you prevent entry and rapidly detect and evict attackers while enabling you to stay secure. As a result, you won’t have to worry about the effectiveness of ransomware recovery.