Home » Cyber Security » CyberSec Guides » 7 Tips to Conquer Ransomware Attacks

7 Tips to Conquer Ransomware Attacks

Disclosure: All of our articles are unbased, well researched, and based on a true picture of the story. However we do sometimes get commissions from affiliate sites. Our readers get the best discount from buying from our links. Here is our complete affiliate disclosure.

Ransomware attacks are growing frequently and affecting every sector of the business industry. These attacks can target organizations with phishing emails or exploit an unpatched system, costing them over a billion dollars a year

The scope and tactics of ransomware attacks are constantly evolving, with the prime objectives of stealing a company’s sensitive data, demanding huge ransom, and disrupting the organization’s operation. There’s up to a 24% increase in global ransomware attacks, and these numbers will likely grow in the future. 

As the ransomware attacks have taken a dark turn, fighting off these attacks has become vital. Defending against ransomware attacks requires a holistic approach that brings together the entire organization. Therefore, learning about the different ways to prevent ransomware attacks is essential. 

The Current State of Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks are a global threat, and 80% of organizations have experienced a ransomware attack in 2021. These attacks are successful because organizations remain vulnerable to poor password practices, remote working culture, unsecured systems, and lack of awareness about these attacks. 

Ransomware attacks are growing and have become sophisticated because hackers rely on advanced tools and strategies to modify the attacking approach. The primitive methods of launching attacks are obsolete, and cybercriminals benefit more from ransomware attacks by making them available as a service. 

The introduction of RaaS has significantly increased the influx of ransomware attacks. It is a subscription-based malicious model in which cybercriminals write malicious code and sell it to other bad actors to launch the attack. After a successful attack, the ransom money is divided between the attacker and the provider. Two out of three ransomware attacks are caused by the RaaS setup. 

Moreover, instead of exploiting a security vulnerability in the system, attackers now exploit the entire endpoint vulnerabilities to launch the attack successfully. The WannaCry attack is one such attack where attackers use this tactic. Besides this, attackers use the double extortion method for launching the ransomware attacks in which they encrypt the master file and blackmail the victims until they pay the ransom. 

Another trend is that cybercriminals are changing their group names and returning with new identities or taking advantage of the geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine to launch ransomware attacks. 

The impact of ransomware attacks can be immense; they badly impact organizations’ reputations as they lose data and customers’ trust and bear regulatory fines. These attacks will cost $256 billion to organizations by 2031. In the worst scenario, these attacks can even force an organization to stop its operations. Thus, businesses need to prepare a strategy to prevent ransomware attacks. 

Signs to Detect Ransomware Attacks

Bad actors enter the organization’s network to plan and launch a ransomware attack. If organizations can spot and detect the early signs of a ransomware attack, it can prevent real damage. Watch out for these warning signs of a ransomware attack:

  • Hackers often use phishing email techniques to begin a ransomware attack. Be wary of emails from unknown senders containing suspicious links and attachments and call for urgency. 
  • Ransomware gangs enter the corporate network through Remote Desktop Protocol links and install unauthorized software, encrypt files, and change their names and location. 
  • Hackers create administrative accounts for themselves and often use advanced tools and software like MimiKatz, PC Hunter, and IOBit Uninstaller to disable security software and steal your credentials. Employees must be vigilant about any such tools, and if these are detected, immediately report to the security team. 
  • Ransomware behaves unusually. For instance, it opens up a dozen files at once and replaces them with the encrypted version. If you notice such behavior, it’s an early sign of a ransomware attack. 

If you successfully spot these signs, you can reduce the chances of damage caused by a ransomware attack. 

Seven Tips to Prevent Ransomware Attacks 

Ransomware attacks have become the most predominant cyber threat to business organizations all around the globe. These attacks are increasing, and their rapid growth is expected to rise. But thankfully, there are effective ways to prevent ransomware attacks. 

Preventing ransomware attacks needs a layered approach that includes proactive measures combined with security defenses to mitigate these attacks. Below are seven tips that can beat bad guys when it comes to ransomware:

Adopt Cyber Insurance Policies

Cyber insurance has increased significantly over the last few years and has played a crucial role in helping businesses to survive ransomware attacks. It is reported that the rate of cyber reinsurance rose by 40% across the industry as the demand for ransom payments rises. Adopting cyber insurance policies and measures disrupts the ransomware attack model and strengthens the company’s security infrastructure. 

Cyber insurance provides more help than coverage for ransom. It covers a range of first and third-party losses that a victim incurred, such as data and system recovery, business interruption, incident reporting, and legal consulting. Moreover, they also help organizations identify and fix security vulnerabilities and adopt better threat prevention strategies. 

Implement Zero-Trust Security Model

Adopting a zero-trust model is a valuable security mechanism in mitigating ransomware. The modern security model relies on “never trust and always verify” to prevent ransomware attacks in the past, like the famous colonial Pipeline attack. This approach helps monitor the network through centralized management that enhances network visibility and support for compliance reporting.

The zero-trust model allows IT managers to visualize networks and resources and ensures that everyone within an organization has the least privilege and secure access to all the resources that reduce the attack surface and decrease the chances of getting hit by ransomware attacks. By controlling all aspects of network security with a zero-trust solution, IT managers can also reduce the potential online risks and threats. 

Moreover, within this model, the IT managers segment user access so that each user can access only some company-specific resources and doesn’t expose the network at a large scale. Allowing specific members to access certain applications and resources limits the pathway for malicious actors to access sensitive data. 

Improve Enterprise Email Security

Ransomware can target businesses and individuals in several ways. But the trouble often begins with a click on the link received via email. Email phishing is the most widely used ransomware attack vector. By improving organizational email security, businesses can prevent ransomware attacks. Employees must think twice about replying or clicking on a link or attachment they find in a suspicious-looking email.

Organizations can implement email authentication techniques like DMARC, SPK, and DKIM that use email filters and public and private key cryptography to detect fraudulent emails and prevent ransomware. In addition, the business can also use machine-intelligent email security solutions that scan and block phishing emails from landing in the employees’ mailboxes. 

Besides this, training employees on detecting email phishing can also prove helpful to the users. 

Strong Password Security Controls

The majority of ransomware attacks happen because of credential compromise. Organizations must deploy robust password security protocols that ask employees to set strong passwords for every account. But the old password security practice requiring users to set a complex password of at least eight characters is now obsolete. Organizations can adopt passwordless authentication methods to eliminate password issues and prevent bad actors from breaking into their systems. Moreover, they can also enable the two-factor authentication feature to add an extra security layer to employees’ accounts. 

Patch and Update Your System Regularly

Unpatched vulnerabilities enable bad actors to compromise corporate networks. Attackers can identify a vulnerable system using free scanning tools and unleash ransomware attacks. Hence, ensure the system is patched and secure the data with proper backups. 

Secure backups can be crucial in protecting sensitive data during a ransomware attack. Back up your data at different locations and use different methods like a local backup of files and a secondary backup of files in the cloud. But as data backup is feeble protection against ransomware attacks, organizations need to review and update the backup policies. Also, they must ensure that the backups are clean and secure with backup protection software to protect the data backup and filter out ransomware infection.  

Cyber Kill Chain Model

Organizations are always looking for a solution like the Cyber Kill Chain Model to prevent ransomware. This security model was created by Lockheed Martin that traces the stages of a cyber attack, detects potential vulnerabilities, and helps the security teams to prevent these attacks at an earlier stage. It breaks down each stage of the ransomware attack so defenders can recognize and stop it. 

The goal of cyber kill chain security is to inform the business security and risk management process and understand what happens when an attack occurs so it’s not repeated in the future. Thus, organizations need to integrate this security model to reduce the chances of ransomware attacks. 

 Perform Security Awareness Training

When it comes to preventing ransomware attacks, nothing beats security awareness and training. Organizations spend much money deploying security tools and solutions but often fail to invest in security awareness and training programs. Businesses need to arrange practical training sessions that put the employees in a real-time situation to deal with a ransomware attack. 

Employee negligence is a top cause for several cyber attacks, including ransomware. Before training, educating employees about the dangers of ransomware attacks is essential. Send the employees the latest ransomware news and tell them about the actions to reduce the ransomware attack surface. The more knowledgeable a user is, the safer your organization will be, so don’t neglect employees’ education and engage them in security training programs. 

Besides this, organizations can also invest in the best anti-ransomware software to combat these attacks. It scans the device and the downloaded files for the presence of ransomware and removes it before the damage can be done. 

Final Thoughts 

Ransomware has grown into a serious threat to business organizations. It brings several negative consequences to organizations, including financial and reputational damage. The attackers are adopting new tactics to target the victims, so it’s difficult to detect ransomware attacks. However, a few common signs businesses can always look for are to identify ransomware. 

Organizations must follow preventive measures like those discussed above to prevent these attacks. Being updated about the ransomware trends and adopting a layered security approach, one can win the race against ransomware attacks. 

Photo of author
Rebecca James is an IT consultant with forward thinking approach toward developing IT infrastructures of SMEs. She writes to engage with individuals and raise awareness of digital security, privacy, and better IT infrastructure.

Leave a Comment