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5 Things You Need to Do to Protect Yourself or Your Business from a Ransomware Attack

5 Things You Need to Do to Protect Yourself or Your Business from a Ransomware Attack

Over the past few years, ransomware attack have become more frequent and widespread, as cybercriminals continue to target businesses and organizations in order to obtain confidential user information. The goal is to collect as much useful information as possible and force businesses and organizations to pay a ransom for their vital data through penetrating a database and constructing an encrypted wall that separates the business from its sensitive data.

When ransomware first originated as a tactic for cybercriminals, the attacks mostly happened to larger organizations, such as those in the healthcare industry, where there are mass amounts of confidential and sensitive data and information. Over the years, ransomware attacks have been made on businesses of all sizes, and many businesses are not sure how ransomware attacks happen or how they can be prevented.

Protecting your business from cybercriminals starts with understanding what ransomware attacks are, what you can do to prepare, and how you can recover if you become the victim of an attack. Knowing where to begin is the first step in protecting your data. We consulted with cybersecurity experts on how ransomware attacks occur, the threats ransomware attacks pose, the fallout that could occur, and solutions and strategies to protect yourself and your business against a ransomware attack.

Educate Your Users

We cannot overstate the importance of employee awareness training, responsibility, and testing. Educating and training your employees on identifying threats and attacks is a continual process, focusing on existing and rising threats. With the increasing complexity and frequency of ransomware attacks, your users must constantly be on the lookout for cyber threats.

”Employees are often the last line of defense and giving them basic knowledge on what not to do can save an organization from a ransomware infection.”

Joe Cannata, Techsperts LLC | https://www.techspertsllc.com/

”Constant training of end-users to help them be aware of ways to protect themselves and their organization.”

-Krystal Triumph, Atlantic-IT.net | https://www.atlantic-it.net/

”There are a number of vendors that now do this, but essentially you are paying a vendor to attempt to phish your employees on a constant basis.  It’s important that the program is ongoing, frequent, and that new hires are automatically enrolled.”

-Alexander Freund, 4IT | https://www.4it-inc.com/

Implement Multi-Factor and Two-Factor Authentication

Implementing Multi-factor authentication or two-factor authentication will require a user to provide more than a single factor, such as a username and password, to access a device, application, system, or network. This could be in the form of a code texted to a separate device or requiring users to provide a fingerprint in addition to a password.

”Many ransomware attacks begin with a set of compromised credentials. MFA (multi-factor authentication) is far and away the best defense against compromised credentials.  This is a must-have item for access to corporate email, administrative credentials of any kind, and even better if deployed down to the desktop.”

-Alexander Freund, 4IT | https://www.4it-inc.com/

”Organizations should be investing in mandatory 2FA on all applications that can be accessed remotely, and limiting SMS or email 2FA is the secondary verification as this can be spoofed.”

-Krystal Triumph, Atlantic-IT.net | https://www.atlantic-it.net/

Implement Next-Gen Security Solutions

Next-generation security refers to solutions that utilize behavioral analysis, Artificial Intelligence, and machine learning to provide protection from new threats. Getting a next-gen security solution with next-generation should become a top priority.

”Next-Generation security solutions include Antivirus and Malware Detection, email security, DNS web filtering software that will continually scan the network for viruses and look at abnormal changes in files.”

-Krystal Triumph, Atlantic-IT.net | https://www.atlantic-it.net/

”At a minimum, all businesses should have a next-gen firewall which has been hardened by a security expert, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) solution in place. Dedicated email security and endpoint protection solutions serve as another important line of defense against cyber threats.”

-Craig Beam, MicroXpress | https://microxpress.net/

”Features such as behavior monitoring and URL Filtering are key to helping stop a ransomware infection before it starts./Email is one of the leading ways ransomware infections start. Inbound and outbound email filtering will help to minimize malicious emails sent to your employees.”

Joe Cannata, Techsperts LLC | https://www.techspertsllc.com/

”There is very good software on the market that can identify and AUTOMATICALLY isolate an endpoint that has become infected with ransomware.  This is key to limiting the extent of the damage./Email is the most likely vector by which a breach will occur that ends with a ransomware attack.  Your email front-end should make it very easy to remove suspect emails from EVERYONE’s mailbox within the organization.  Most phishing attacks are executed against multiple employees at the same time, so it’s very important to quickly remove any identified phishing emails from the entire organization.”

-Alexander Freund, 4IT | https://www.4it-inc.com/

Have a Backup and Disaster Recovery Strategy

One of the best defenses against ransomware is being able to restore data from clean backups. Running regular backups is a cybersecurity best practice. You should run full backups automatically and at set intervals. While maintaining backups won’t mean that you will never become the victim of a ransomware attack, clean and uninfected backups can reduce losses after an attack.

Have good backups. It’s the last line of defense when all else fails.

-Craig Beam, MicroXpress | https://microxpress.net/

”A Backup and Business Continuity solution will take snapshots and allow for an easy rollback of systems, availability to utilize other hardware, and backups segregated from the network.”

-Krystal Triumph, Atlantic-IT.net | https://www.atlantic-it.net/

”Verify your backup repository credentials – Any sophisticated bad actor will attempt to find where backups are located.  If they can get to the repository, they will definitely encrypt it, guaranteeing that the victim cannot restore the data. These credentials must be unique and disconnected to any other single-sign-on or authentication system./Have a disaster recovery plan, an incident response plan, and test both of them – You literally do not want to be testing either in the middle of an emergency.  A real test involves shutting systems down and making them unavailable to simulate a full outage and executing your restoration procedure.”

-Alexander Freund, 4IT | https://www.4it-inc.com/

Implement Layered Security Measures

”Install an application whitelisting solution. This is the most important part. The reason ransomware is so problematic is because it can still bypass all of the above. Application whitelisting is a “zero trust” solution that stops ransomware in its tracks by only allowing pre-approved applications to run on endpoints.”

-Craig Beam, MicroXpress | https://microxpress.net/

”Dark Web Monitoring – Monitor all business domains and email addresses for leaked credentials or other information hackers can find useful.”

Joe Cannata, Techsperts LLC | https://www.techspertsllc.com/

”Zero Trust Policies – Locks down servers and workstations to prevent any unauthorized changes.”

-Joe Cannata, Techsperts LLC | https://www.techspertsllc.com/

”Manage all devices on the network, including mobile devices, looking out for fake apps, ensuring all equipment is up to date, and appropriate security permissions with the least privilege access.”

-Krystal Triumph, Atlantic-IT.net | https://www.atlantic-it.net/

Bonus Ransomware Prevention Tips

  • Define your RTO and RPO for your business-critical applications.
  • Prepare emergency firewall and content-filtering profiles.
  • Buy cyber insurance and read the details of the coverage.
  • Hire an expert/Contract with a 24×7 SOC to monitor your IT infrastructure.

The best way to protect yourself and your business from ransomware is to be aware of the threats and take action. The key is developing a path now that allows you to avoid ransomware today and allows you to integrate additional security measures in the future.

Also Read: A Guide to Running a Successful Managed Services Business

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