Ransomware is one of the most widely discussed cyber security threats and has been on the rise for several years. Mostly, hackers attack your systems by sending phishing emails containing malicious attachments or links. At first, these emails look genuine, but once you open the link or the attachment, the malware will install itself on your system and encrypt the files.
Hackers can install ransomware on your system(s) through several other ways, like malicious websites or social media apps. Ransomware can cripple your business and even force you out of business. Therefore, it is essential to protect your organization from ransomware and its potential effects.
Below, we have explained what ransomware is and how your company can prevent it!
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware, malicious software that hackers use to prevent or limit users from accessing their system(s) by locking the system’s screen or by encrypting the users’ and/or systems files; it also may exfiltrate data from your systems. Then, the malicious actors demand a ransom payment for unlocking the system and giving you access to your files. Though, receiving the key to unencrypt the system files is not guaranteed.
Many hackers request this ransom payment in cryptocurrencies so that it becomes difficult for you to trace your payment. They will assign you a deadline to pay the ransom, and if you fail to make the payment before the deadline, they may permanently lock your files or double the requested ransom payment.
Certain ransom software can spread rapidly to other machines on a network and bring your entire system to a standstill.
Monetization of ransomware
Ransomware gangs are not just requesting payment to unencrypt your system(s) and file(s) as a way to monetize ransomware. Here are additional ways these criminal gangs monetize ransomware.
- Stealing your data and requesting additional payment
- Selling your data to other ransomware gangs
- Using stolen data to blackmail the victims whose personal data was taken
- Posting the data on the dark web for sale
- Threatening to notify the media, partners, or clients about the hack
Ransomware has turned into a multi-billion-dollar industry, and with additional ways to monetize attacks, attacks are only becoming more prevalent and costly.
How can your company prevent ransomware attacks?
Your company must follow these preventive measures to be prepared for ransomware:
1. Make sure your software is up to date – Scan your systems for vulnerabilities on a regular basis. Then regularly apply applicable software updates to keep your programs running and upgrade their security levels to the latest version. Therefore, you must often update your software and applications.
Your programs may automatically notify you when it is time for an update. However, it is advisable to regularly look for updates so that you do not miss any as well as look for unsanctioned software on your systems.
2. Layer security measures – The best way to prevent ransomware is following a layered security approach. It means protecting your data and system using more than one security tool, such as sophisticated anti-virus/anti-malware software that incorporates artificial intelligence, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems, network detection and response (NDR), and/or extended detection and response (XDR) systems, data loss prevention security systems, email security tools, and security information and event management (SIEM) systems that correlate logs and help with the response. In case of failure of one security tool, other tools will act as an additional layer of protection systems and alert you about the incident.
3. Conduct awareness training – Your employees, intentionally or unintentionally, may compromise the security of your company’s data and systems. This type of insider threat is usually a result of negligence or human error and opens the door for cybercriminals to initiate a ransomware attack.
Remember, if your staff is not adequately trained and not aware of how the security systems work, they can be the weakest link in your company’s security system. Therefore, you must educate your employees about what ransomware is, how it can negatively affect your system, and what they must do to prevent them.
4. Backup systems – Even if cybercriminals hack your system, you can avoid paying the ransom with a robust backup strategy. Therefore, incorporate the practice of regularly backing up critical systems and other systems frequently. You must also regularly test the images and other forms of saved data to double-check their integrity. This can be done as part of the normal operations process and during table-top exercises.
About CyberFore Systems
With ransomware attacks on the rise, it is essential to follow the preventive measures to protect your company’s systems and networks. At CyberFore Systems, we offer ransomware consulting services and help you protect your systems and networks from ransomware. Our team of skilled professionals can also train and educate your employees about cybersecurity. Contact us at (832) 592-3854 or fill out our contact form for more information.