Ransomware has become a pervasive threat to modern business, accounting for over 236 million attacks in the first half of 2022 alone. For those who don’t know, ransomware encrypts your systems and data unless you pay a ransom, usually in an untraceable cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. A successful ransomware attack can be devastating, resulting in hefty financial losses, downtime, and reputational damage.
Fortunately, the right proactive measures can effectively keep this threat at bay. We delve into six essential strategies for preventing ransomware attacks, helping you keep your valuable assets safe.
How can businesses stay safe from ransomware attacks?
To keep ransomware at bay, implement the following strategies and solutions:
Having a combination of reliable security measures such as firewalls, spam filters, and antivirus software creates a strong defense against ransomware attempts. In addition to these, the US Chamber of Commerce recommends using the following:
- Data loss prevention solutions – protect sensitive data by identifying, classifying, and applying policies to prevent its unauthorized exposure or sharing
- Role-based access controls – ensure that only authorized personnel can access critical systems and data
- Two-factor authentication – requires another form of authentication in addition to passwords to make it significantly more difficult for attackers to hijack user accounts
By creating a multilayered security system, you effectively reduce the likelihood of ransomware, and other cyberthreats, infiltrating your digital infrastructure.
Stringent backup and recovery procedures
Backing up your data to off-site data centers or cloud servers ensures that you have an accessible copy of your data, even if your local systems are compromised by ransomware. You can simply recover fresh copies of your data from backups without having to pay egregious ransom demands.
You should also keep a strict and well-documented backup and recovery system in place, one that ensures security and data redundancy. This could involve data segmentation, which isolates your backup data from the primary network, preventing ransomware from encrypting the copies. Versioning, or maintaining multiple versions of backups, can additionally allow data recovery from different points in time.
You may also wish to automate your backups to ensure a frequent, consistent backup process; as well as employ regular testing of your backups to verify their integrity and functionality.
Application whitelisting is a cybersecurity strategy where a business specifies a list of approved or “whitelisted” files and applications that can run on its systems. This approach provides effective protection against ransomware by blocking unauthorized or malicious software from executing. With infections typically initiated by accidental downloads or unauthorized software installations, application whitelisting serves as a proactive measure against the common risk of human error.
Companies can now implement application whitelisting programs to make this process as efficient as possible. CISA particularly recommends AppLocker or Windows Defender Application Control, which both offer flexible features you could fine-tune to meet your business needs.
Regular network monitoring and patching
Network monitoring involves continuously observing a business’s network for unusual activities or vulnerabilities. This often goes hand in hand with software updates and security patching.
Through these processes, businesses can detect suspicious network behavior, such as unauthorized access attempts, and early signs of a potential ransomware attack, allowing for swift response and containment.
Meanwhile, regular patching can ensure that known security flaws in operating systems, software, and applications are promptly addressed, as unpatched systems make prime targets for ransomware exploits.
Automatic email filters
Email scanning and spam filtering are easy, yet highly effective ways to protect against ransomware. The former involves the automatic examination of email content and attachments for malicious elements, such as malware or phishing links. The latter, on the other hand, identifies and blocks unsolicited and potentially harmful emails before they even reach the recipient.
With ransomware and other forms of cyberattacks often carried out in phishing emails, these tools can quickly flag and quarantine suspicious messages before employees inadvertently open an infected attachment or link.
Employee awareness training
Employees are often your first line of defense, with their actions either capable of thwarting or unknowingly facilitating a ransomware attack. According to Verizon’s latest statistics, 74% of data breaches involved the human element, which includes innocent mistakes and social engineering tactics.
Conducting comprehensive security training programs can thus keep your employees well-informed, making them less likely to fall victim to phishing schemes, email scams, and malicious websites — all common entry points for ransomware. Such training could also emphasize the importance of strong password practices, regular software updates, and data backup protocols, bolstering your overall cybersecurity framework.
With the right ransomware protection strategies, you can effectively keep your data safe from prying hands. If you need further guidance or wish to improve your security measures, reach out to our experts at XBASE and take action today.