One of the biggest trends in cybersecurity in 2017 was in the increase and severity of ransomware. Indeed, 2017 is the year that ransomware made the Merriam Webster dictionary. The trend is expected to continue onto 2018. According to a report published by Cyberscoop, the average ransomware attack earned hackers over $1000 in 2017, up over 256% from 2016. Indeed, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts ransomware will cost organizations $6 trillion annually by 2021. While all this news sounds daunting, here are five things your organization can do to protect itself from ransomware.
Don’t Pay the Ransom
OK, this falls under the heading of what to do should you encounter ransomware. It sounds like a simple thing, the less people pay hackers for their data, the less likely these types of attacks are to occur. For some organizations, they see it as a cost of doing business. An IBM survey found that 70% of businesses victimized by ransomware have paid hackers to retrieve their data. It stands to reason, with so many willing to pay, this type of hacking is a very lucrative revenue stream for hackers. In fact, The US Department of Homeland Security Enterprise Performance Management Office (EPMO) warns against it for the same reason: “Paying a ransom is not a guarantee you're going to get access back to the system... that they're not going to demand more money on top of that. We know of cases where folks have paid the ransom and then been targeted again."
Don’t Click on Attachments in Email
Well-educated and suspicious employees can do wonders for your business’s security. And seeing as they have privileged information at their fingertips, they should be prepared to guard it! This can’t be stressed enough, as 78% of employees who receive a suspicious email will open the attachments anyways – just to see what happens. Train your employees to spot phishing scams. Teach them how to recognize suspicious emails by looking at headers, or simply highlighting links to show the true domain name. Often, these links will lead to a site asking for credentials or ask a user to download a Trojan horse, which can lead to ransomware being installed on company devices. If, after training staff you still don’t trust those 78% of employees, make sure you institute a strong firewall and anti-malware software.
Keep Software up to Date
Ransomware is constantly evolving, and newer versions can go undetected by for days. Applying patches on a timely basis is key to reducing your vulnerability to these attacks. It sounds simple enough, but to a business that is short staffed and has multiple systems, it seems like a daunting task. To help, some businesses hire a Managed Services Provider (MSP) to aid in the process of locating vulnerabilities on the network and patching where necessary.
Always Use Security Software
There are many software tools available to help counter malware. To start, you will want to ensure you have up-to-date anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewall software installed. You’ll also want some sort of vulnerability management and remediation program as well. Incident Management software is arguably one of the most important cybersecurity tools that you can have in your arsenal; this software can monitor your network for suspicious activity, manage alerts, and restore systems to proper functionality.
Back-up Your Data
Having offline backup systems, as well as incident response plans, will also go a long way in helping protect your business. Why pay a ransom to get your data back, if you already have a copy you can restore from? Just remember before restoring from the back-up, that the infected device(s) must be quarantined so it can be dealt with. Once you are certain that the vulnerability has been cleaned, then you can start to recover from the back-ups. When restoring from back-ups, make sure the back-up isn’t also infected.
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