How to Protect a Company from Ransomware Attacks
We have been discussing a lot about ransomware. We have been reporting many ransomware attacks that took place in the recent months, and we have also been discussing how ransomware attacks are rampantly increasing these days.
We have also been witness to hackers getting innovative as regards the methods of ransomware strikes. In fact, today ransomware source codes are available for sale on the underground web market and anyone, not necessarily a hardcore hacker, can buy it and carry out an attack. Such incidents too have come to light in the recent past.
Thus, there is no denying the fact that in the months and years to come, the ransomware threat would continue to loom large over the cyber world and cause headaches to companies, organizations and individuals as well. In this context, it becomes important, for any company, organization or individual, to do what all is necessary to ensure protection against ransomware attacks.
Let’s discuss how companies can protect themselves from ransomware attacks. Here are some very basic tips that could help-
Invest in security
All companies today need to set apart a budget for security. Investing in security is as important as investing in the business itself. Gone are the days when having an antivirus program alone would suffice. Today we have hackers trying out all kinds of innovative techniques to sneak into enterprise networks and get away with all kinds of data- enterprise data as well as sensitive personal data of customers. They even devise ways to bypass conventional antivirus software. Moreover, today companies even allow employees to connect to the main business network using their personal devices- smartphones, laptops, tablets etc. Each of these devices too has to be secured. Hence, a company needs to decide what all security software is needed and plan a definite budget for that as well. There should not be any compromise on that, because it’s the security that’s at stake. Invest in procuring what all security software is needed- antivirus, POS security, endpoint security etc.
Updating software regularly is of utmost importance, when it comes to securing systems and networks. A company would have to update its antivirus software, the operating systems on all computers and devices and the other software as well. Remember that not updating regularly could lead to security flaws that can be exploited by cyber criminals to carry out ransomware strikes. Spectacular examples in the recent past are the WannaCry outbreak and the NotPetya strike.
Go for effective password management and access control
Effective password management is very important for any company. The passwords should be strong and need to be regularly changed. There should be a precise plan as regards this. Similarly, systems that are used for handling card transactions and such critical functionalities should be handled only by those authorized to do so. Thus password management plus proper access control to critical systems/devices would prove very effective as regards combating ransomware.
Backups are important
Backup all documents, all critical data. Also, ensure that the backup is regularly updated. This helps ensure that even if there is a ransomware attack and all files and data in the systems are encrypted by the ransomware, the backup could help bring the business back on track.
Do regular system vulnerability test
A company should do regular system vulnerability tests, which would help identify gaps, if any, in security. This could in turn help prevent ransomware attacks in advance. The IT department should clear plans for this; smaller companies without an organized IT department could get an IT technician to do such checks regularly.
Educate, train employees
Having employees who know all security, malware, ransomware strikes etc itself means that half the battle is won for a company. All employees in a company have to be educated and trained as regards security, with special focus on ransomware and ransomware attacks. This would help eradicate silly mistakes that could lead to a big hacking attack. This could also help preventing ransomware strikes and also aid in recovery if by chance any ransomware strike happens. Employees should also be trained on how to use and secure personal devices that they use to connect to the enterprise network.
And, last but not the least, have a definite plan as to what all is to be done in case a ransomware attack happens- whom to inform, what to do, how to handle the situation, how to recover data etc.
Kevin Jones745 Posts
Kevin Jones, Ph.D., is a research associate and a Cyber Security Author with experience in Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments, Monitoring solutions, Surveillance and Offensive technologies etc. Currently, he is a freelance writer on latest security news and other happenings. He has authored numerous articles and exploits which can be found on popular sites like hackercombat.com and others.