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How Can Ransomware Attacks Be Prevented?

Ransomware attacks have been steadily on the rise in the past few years. 59% of organizations were breached last year, versus only 55.1% in 2018. While this data about recent ransomware attacks is alarming, it doesn’t mean that businesses are helpless against ransomware. In fact, ransomware protection as a service  already exists to combat and defend against these attacks. As hackers devise new methods to skirt these defensive measures, developers of security solutions design new strategies to stay one step ahead.

Unfortunately, many businesses fall victim to ransomware due to a lack of preventative measures in place. We at InterVision firmly believe, when it comes to ransomware attacks, it’s not if; it’s when. So know how can you protect your business and you? Read on to find out.

 

How Does Ransomware Work?

Ransomware is a type of malware (or “malicious software”) that attacks a user’s computer by encrypting files and requiring a ransom payment from the user to regain access to those files. You have most likely seen a movie or TV show where a person is kidnapped, and a sum of money (or “ransom”) is demanded for the safe return of that person. The way in which ransomware works is similar, except instead of demanding a ransom for the return of a person, the attacker is demanding a ransom for the return of your files.

To accomplish this, an attacker using ransomware must go through three steps: infection, data encryption, and the ransom demand.

Infecting the Computer

In the infection stage, the attacker must be able to access a user’s system, which can be done in many different ways. The most common method for accomplishing this is via phishing emails, which have become increasingly more clever over the years. A phishing email may ask you to pay a fake invoice or threaten to expire your email account unless you update it immediately, among many other tricks and lies. If the user falls for the scam and clicks the link in the email, that link can initiate the download of ransomware, leading to the infection of your computer or system.

Encrypting the Data

This step veers slightly from our earlier comparison to the kidnapping and ransoming of a person. A ransomware attacker doesn’t take all of your files and data and keep them in an unknown location, as a kidnapper would do. Instead, your files remain on your computer, but the attacker locks you out of your computer and/or encrypts your files. Encryption essentially translates all of your information into an unreadable format, rendering it useless to you unless you have the key to decrypt it all.

Demanding a Ransom

How do you get the key to decrypt all of your files and return your system to normal? Or get the ability to access your system back? By paying the attacker’s ransom. Attackers usually inform the victim of how to pay this ransom by leaving a ransom note in obvious places on the user’s computer or simply emailing a ransom note to the head of a company. The required payment is usually a form of virtual currency, like bitcoin, to maintain the attacker’s anonymity.

Knowing how ransomware works is the first step toward protecting yourself and your business. Preventative measures are the next step, as these attacks will continue becoming more and more advanced. Just last year, hackers were able to attack multiple large corporations and businesses, such as the attack on Colonial Pipeline. Sadly, Colonial Pipeline had to give in to the ransom demand and ended up paying $4.4 million in bitcoin to the hacking group. Government officials later confirmed that Colonial Pipeline should have had stronger security measures in place to avoid this kind of attack.

 

What Are the Best Practices to Defeat Ransomware?

Now that you have a general understanding of ransomware, your next question is probably something along the lines of, “What can be done to stop ransomware attacks?” Fortunately, because ransomware is becoming such a mainstream problem, there are many ransomware attack solutions, such as:

  • Continuing Cyber Education – Keep your employees up-to-date on the latest threats, such as common phishing scams and new ransomware tactics.
  • Regular Data Backups – Don’t keep your data all in one place. Have multiple backups, and routinely update those backups.
  • Utilizing SIEM – Security information and event management (SIEM) is not only a security solution for ransomware attacks but also many other aspects of your business’s technology. SIEM helps businesses find the weak points in their security, watch out for possible threats, and update their security as the threats become more sophisticated.
  • User Authentication – Employee passwords should have rules to govern their strength, and two-factor authentication should be implemented where possible.
  • Updating Systems and Software – System and software engineers patch and update their products to protect against new threats. Staying current with these updates will fortify your business against potential hackers.
  • Restricting Permissions – Don’t let employees download whatever they want to their work computers. This type of restriction can prevent an employee from innocently downloading malware.

As you can see, there is no one best way to defend against ransomware, but many. If all of this feels overwhelming, you’re not alone. Many businesses choose to hire technology service providers, like InterVision, to assist them with these preventive measures.

 

Can InterVision Help Me Improve My Cybersecurity?

Improving your SIEM is what we’re all about at InterVision. We have been around for nearly 20 years refining our IT service solutions, such as InterVision’s Ransomware Protection as a Service™ (RPaaS™), which goes beyond general SIEM solutions and specifically targets the issues caused by ransomware.

Comprehensively InterVision’s RPaaS solution combines people, process and technology to deliver true end-to-end cyberthreat protection that provides 24/7/365, follow-the-sun coverage with dedicated security and recovery team members committed to rapid response and support. RPaaS’ three primary pillars include:

  1. Ransomware Recovery as a Service (Contains DRaaS + BaaS) – Managed replication and recovery process to ensure rapid recovery from any service disruption
  2. SOCaaS (Contains EDR + MDR) – Monitoring and warning of threat activity to stop attacks before they happen
  3. vCISO (Security Posture and Advice) – Ongoing advisory and assistance to support the maturation of security process and ongoing business risk mitigation

With our ransomware recovery service, a top-of-the-line disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) practice, we implement extensive strategies to help you swiftly recover from ransomware attacks when you encounter an attack.

In addition to ransomware protection and recovery, our team has solutions for any technology need, such as cloud storage, hyperconvergence, networking, security, hardware and software, backups, and more. We also offer our clients 24/7 support via phone, email, or web ticketing, because we know IT issues can occur at any time. If you’re looking to transform and fortify your business’s IT, please contact us today!