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Expert’s Tips To Fight Off Ransomware Email Attacks In 2023

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Ransomware Email Attacks

Undoubtedly, ransomware attacks are increasing daily, and this trend will not likely decrease in the upcoming years. This year, the ransomware attacks increased by 13% more than last year

The ransomware groups are becoming more sophisticated by using advanced tactics, resulting in more attacks. One popular method that attackers are using these days is phishing emails. A study finds that organizations saw a 78% rise in email-based ransomware attacks in 2021. It is the easiest method to trick someone, and employees become an easy target. Lack of awareness, poor email security practices, and no backup data create chaos within an organization, and they agree to fulfill the hackers’ terms to get their data back.    

Ransomware attacks will no doubt continue for a long time to become the biggest threat in the digital world. But there’s always something you can do to reduce the threat vector. Here’s what an organization needs to know about the safety tips to prevent ransomware email attacks in the future. 

Can You Get Ransomware Through Emails?

Ransomware can significantly impact all businesses, regardless of their size. All personal, corporate, financial, employee, and customer data and intellectual property are taken hostage by ransomware. Now, hackers are using the phishing email technique to spread ransomware on their devices. Proofpoint finds that phishing emails contain malicious attachments, and employees accidentally or intentionally click on them, bringing havoc to the entire organization. 

Not just an organization’s data lost, but they lose their valued customers and a good reputation in the market. Even worse, the hackers don’t give back the data or sell it on the dark web even after paying the ransom. 

Cybersecurity Ventures predicted ransomware attacks would likely cost businesses $256 billion by 2031. One reason is the new trends that cyber criminals adopt; luckily, they have become successful. Previously, to launch successful ransomware attacks, hackers sent malicious attachments. But now, they use another interesting trick to target more people and their devices. 

The LockBit ransomware affiliates are disguising their malware as copyright claims. These emails warned the recipient about a copyright violation, allegedly using media files without the creator’s license. These emails urge the recipient to remove the infringing content from their websites, or they will face legal action. These emails often include a link that needs to be viewed or downloaded; this is where employees can make a mistake. 

The latest ransomware attack tactics can halt businesses and set an entire organization for failure. Thus, it becomes imperative to take action against these attacks. 

Signs to Detect Ransomware Emails

Ransomware emails are no different from phishing emails, so the signs are similar. Like any other cyber-attack, to prevent the ransomware email attack, employees within an organization must be able to detect it. Here are a few notable signs to detect an email that can infect your device with ransomware:

  • If you receive an email from an unknown source containing any attachment or file they ask you to download, be careful, as it is a sign of an email attack.
  • The hackers use catchy email subject that requires urgency to respond to them. If you receive any such email, it is another indication that hackers are waiting for you to access your data. 
  • Most email attacks are a result of compromised credentials. After stealing your work colleague’s credentials, the attacker may have sent you an email. In such cases, confirm with your colleague if they have sent the email. 
  • Hackers sending fake emails usually don’t have a strong grip on the English language. Thus, the emails they send are full of typos and grammatical mistakes. 

The above signs indicate that a possible ransomware email attack is on its way and raise the need to take immediate action against them. 

How to Fight Against Ransomware Emails?

Fighting ransomware email attacks requires a holistic approach that brings together all organizations on one page. Here are the seven tips organizations can practice to stop and limit the effects of ransomware email attacks. 

1- Robust Email Security

A robust email security culture prevents fake emails from landing in your email box. Every employee within the organization must be able to detect any suspicious-looking emails. They must look into various aspects of the emails to decide whether to respond to them or not. For instance, they must look at the URL of the email before clicking on it. Carefully read every letter and line of the email to analyze if it’s come from a credible source or if a hacker designed it. If the email matches the signs of a ransomware email, delete it immediately. 

Besides this, employees must report to the security team or concerned department responsible for network security. So, if your company is overlooking email security, it’s better to prioritize it than anything else. 

2- Use Advanced Sandboxing Technique

Organizations can reduce the risk of ransomware emails by using the sandbox technique. It is a malware detection system that runs a suspicious object in a virtual machine and analyzes the object for any malicious activity. It analyzes and inspects the email URL, files, and links received via email for any potential malware. If the sandbox system successfully detects the presence of ransomware, it blocks any future malicious emails and ensures that such emails don’t reach your inbox. 

3 – Use DMARC

A Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) is an email authentication protocol that defends against direct domain spoofing. This domain authentication protocol can easily detect an email sent by any unauthorized sender of that domain. In response, it either discards or blocks any further messages from receiving. It is a great way to detect ransomware phishing emails that hackers often send by pretending to be from your business partner. Thus, this way, any company using the DMARC can easily prevent phishing emails. 

4- Backup Your Data

If a ransomware email attack becomes successful, the first thing that hackers target is the business data. Thus, creating data backup in multiple places, like on local disks and cloud servers, can help organizations limit the effects of fake email attacks. With backup data, companies can help regain the systems’ functionality even if the hackers lock the data and demand to pay the ransom first. 

5- Update The Browser

Browser updates contain vital security patches that fix vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to launch a successful ransomware email attack. Thus, it’s essential to download the browser updates for your devices soon as you receive them. Employees often ignore them, but it’s better to take safety measures before time rather than regretting them later. They can even set the auto-update option if the update notifications often pop up while working on an important task. 

It is especially important if the employees use Google as their office’s default browser. Vulnerability within the Google browser can expose your sensitive data to hackers who can use it to launch a ransomware email attack. 

6- Develop An Incident Response Plan

Organizations are sometimes aware of the potential threat activity, but as they lack visibility, they cannot address the problem. An incident response plan can be crucial in enabling the security teams to make speedy decisions. If the security teams respond quickly, it can significantly improve the overall security landscape and prevent potential attacks. A ransomware incident response plan includes step-by-step guidance for what to do in the event of an email ransomware attack. 

7- Comprehensive Cybersecurity Training Programs

Having a strong cybersecurity culture also helps in combating the ransomware email attack. The best way to achieve it is by launching a cybersecurity training program. Employees must be trained to check an email for a possible ransomware attack. The training programs must be held regularly and designed to engage the employees so they don’t lose interest. In addition, make sure to include a list of policies regarding necessary cybersecurity practices and how vital it is for everyone to follow them. 

Above all, don’t forget to use the best anti-ransomware software. It’s a special software designed to detect and block ransomware before it gets your data. When you receive an email, run a scan, and if the software detects it, immediately delete the email and block the sender.

What are ransomware attack emails?

Ransomware attack emails are bogus emails that contain malware and are capable enough to encrypt your files and other sensitive documents. Upon clicking on these emails, the malware downloads on your device and locks all the sensitive data until you pay the ransom. 

Does Gmail protect from ransomware?

Fortunately, Gmail does protect from ransomware attacks. All the files undergo a real-time scan before you can download or share them. In addition, Google Drive stores the files in a non-executable format, preventing ransomware from spreading within your Drive. 

What is the strongest defense against ransomware email attacks?

Security experts have suggested various defensive practices to protect against ransomware attacks. However, having a robust cyberculture is the strongest defense regarding ransomware emails. An organization where employees are trained in detecting such fake emails helps foster a healthy cyber environment and reduces the risk of such attacks. Similarly, individuals must remain updated about the latest trends that hackers use to target them. In addition, they must follow security practices to prevent becoming victims of a ransomware email attack. 

Does a VPN protect against ransomware attacks?

Using a VPN provider might help prevent a ransomware attack from effectively completing its job. It encrypts the data traffic by default, making it difficult for anyone to access your data. But a VPN won’t offer more than it because its job is different. The best anti-ransomware software scans the device for potential threats, identifies them, and blocks them before they cause any damage. However, some reliable VPN providers now offer anti-malware protection that can stop ransomware from targeting you.

Final Thoughts

Ransomware email attacks are a significant threat to individuals and business organizations. It is just like an email phishing attack in which your sensitive data becomes locked upon clicking on the bogus email until the ransom demand is fulfilled. These attacks cause more damage to business organizations than individuals. However, by practicing safety measures and using the best anti-ransomware software, individuals and businesses can protect their data from getting into the wrong hands of hackers. 

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Rutaba Rais is Editor at Be Encrypted with focus on Technology and Internet Security. Apart from her Healthcare background, she has interests in Lifestyle, Journalism, and expressing her opinion by her writing. You can follow her on Twitter.

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