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How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks?

by | Jun 26, 2020 | Cyber Security

As the world of technology grows, so should the cybersecurity practices that protect them. Having a ransomware defense strategy should be a priority for any individual or company. Without it, poorly protected users and organizations can put themselves at risk of losing important and confidential information.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a sophisticated type of malware that can infect a computer and subsequently hold sensitive data or personally identifiable information (PII) hostage until a fee, or “ransom” is paid. Cybercriminals often use a binary encryption key to restrict data access to extort money from victims.

Ransomware attacks can be especially dangerous for businesses, hospitals, schools, or other organizations that rely on that information to function daily. In most cases, failure to pay the ransom can lead to permanent loss or exposure of confidential data.

Best Ransomware Prevention Practices

  1. Backup Your Data
    Backing up your data to an external hard drive or cloud server is one of the easiest risk mitigation practices. In the case of a ransomware attack, the user can wipe the computer clean and reinstall the backup files. Ideally, organizations should be backing up their most important data at least once per day.
  1. Keep All Systems And Software Updated
    Always keep your operating system, web browser, antivirus, and any other software you use updated to the latest version available. Malware, viruses, and ransomware are constantly evolving with new variants that can bypass your old security features, so you’ll want to make sure everything is patched and up-to-date.
  1. Install Antivirus Software & Firewalls
    Comprehensive antivirus and anti-malware software are the most common ways to defend against ransomware. They can scan, detect, and respond to cyber threats. However, you’ll also need to configure your firewall since antivirus software only works at the internal level and can only detect the attack once it is already in the system
  1. Network Segmentation
    Because ransomware can spread quickly throughout a network, it’s important to limit the spread as much as possible in the event of an attack. Implementing network segmentation divides the network into multiple smaller networks so the organization can isolate the ransomware and prevent it from spreading to other systems.
  1. Application Whitelisting
    Whitelisting determines which applications can be downloaded and executed on a network. Any unauthorized program or website that is not whitelisted will be restricted or blocked in the case an employee or user accidentally downloads an infected program or visits a corrupted site. Using whitelisting software like Windows AppLocker, you can also “blacklist” or block specific programs and websites.
  1. Endpoint Security
    Endpoint security should be a priority for growing businesses. As businesses begin to expand and the number of end-users increases, this creates more endpoints (laptops, smartphones, servers, etc.) that need to be secured. Each remote endpoint creates a potential opportunity for criminals to access private information or, worse, the main network.
  1. Limit User Access Privileges
    Another way to protect your network and systems is limiting user access and permissions to only the data they need to work. This idea of “least privilege” limits who can access essential data. By doing so, you can prevent ransomware from spreading between systems within a company. Even with access, users may encounter limited functions or resources, as defined in a role-based access control (RBAC) policy.
  1. Run Regular Security Testing
    Implementing new security measures should be a never-ending task. As ransomware tactics continue to evolve, companies need to run regular cybersecurity tests and assessments to adapt to changing environments

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