Think of a situation that you logged in to your computer and discover that you no longer have access to any of the data. You just see one note on a screen demanding you to pay some hefty money to get back the data. Refusal to pay will result in complete data loss. No one likes to be in such a situation, but that’s what you call a ransomware attack. With every passing year, the scale of ransomware is growing at a rapid pace with more tactics and victims. Individuals, small businesses, large enterprises, and public
institutions, all are on the victim list. But if you ensure proper ransomware protection measures, then chances of getting victim reduces greatly. In this blog, we will shed light on ransomware and how to ensure ransomware threat protection.
How Does Ransomware Work?
There are multiple ways by which ransomware can infect a computer and/or mobile device, but the common approach is sending an email to the target. The email usually looks legitimate or presents some kind of attractive offer. When the person clicks the link given in the email, it takes the person to the website that inserts the ransomware on that PC Mac or mobile device in real time. Besides that, ransomware can also be inserted via links in documents macros, websites, or due to OS/browser security vulnerabilities.
Once the victim gets hit by a ransomware attack, it is mostly impossible to remove ransomware safely. All the data gets encrypted by ransomware, so there is minimal to no chance of getting back the data without pay the ransom. The victim can try decryption tools, but the encrypted file versions are not easy to decrypt.
Once the victim pays the amount, the data gets accessible again. But there are also chances that the attackers must have stolen sensitive data, such as account numbers, passwords, etc. In addition, they can install malware into the victim system to use it as a bot controller or similar other purposes.
Two Common Attack Approaches of Ransomware
To enter the victim system, ransomware attackers use multiple tactics based on their research about the victim. But there are two common attack approaches to make the entry, as follow:
- Phishing: The main goal of phishing attacks is to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, date of birth, address, social security numbers, etc. In simple words, it includes stealing any data that could make financial damage to the victim and could be used for illegal activities. To extract such information, phishing attacks are usually conducted via sending emails to make the victim click on the link.
- Software Vulnerabilities: It is common to have vulnerabilities in software, but if it is left unpatched, then it’s the entry point for ransomware. Individuals and organizations give less importance to regular security updates that are often meant to address vulnerabilities. Attackers take advantage of this negligence and use those vulnerabilities to penetrate systems.
In addition to the above type of ransomware, there are other entry points too, such as botnets, web injects, ads, remote desktop services, infected installers, and similar others.
5 Steps for ensuring Ransomware Protection
Now that you are aware of what ransomware is and possible entry approaches, it’s time to find out possible security solutions for ransomware protection. Often there is a perception that having anti ransomware tools are enough to prevent ransomware attacks, but security efforts need to be more advanced. Having anti malware or ransomware tools is a must, but the below 5 steps are also crucial for ensuring ransomware protection:
- Up-To-Date Systems
System vulnerabilities are one of the favourite gateways for attackers, which need to be addressed as quickly as possible. It requires keeping the system up-to-date with the latest updates and security patches. Usually, due to the large system scale of organizations, they prefer to test the released patches on few machines before implementing them on a full scale. But this process must be completed in a quick and efficient way because attackers are well aware of the vulnerabilities, so they are actively working to make an impact. In short, when the system is up-to-date, it prevents ransomware attackers to use software vulnerabilities as a route to enter the system.
- Secure Server and Email
Organizations must take all the possible measures they could to secure their server and email. Because reducing the number of incoming spams with the help of ransomware scanners or other approaches can greatly reduce the chances of malicious emails reaching the mailbox of employees.
- Avoid Public and Unsecure Connections
If employees use a public or unsecured connection to access business resources remotely, then it provides a simple route for attackers to install malicious files to the organization’s servers. Therefore, organizations must ensure that no PCs, iPhone, and Android devices ever get connected with public and unsecured connections. Even for remote access, employees must have a secure route via VPN, RDP, SSH, or FTP.
- Practice Data Backup
No matter the type of ransomware, data is always the prime target. If you haven’t done data backup, then you are at the mercy of attackers once the ransomware encrypts your data and demands a ransom. But if you have done data backup, you can stay assured that your data is secure. In present times, there are many easy ways for data backup, such as external hard drives, cloud backups, etc.
- Employees Training
Ransomware attacks are successful because of the negligence of victims in identifying possible threats. The chances of ransomware attacks can be decreased greatly if employees get continuous training with intuitive case studies. This will help them to identify possible threats, avoid the trap of vulnerable links, and remain more conscious.
No business is safe from ransomware attacks today and they never know what type of malware can attack them. But if organizations ensure rigid ransomware protection measures along with proper employees’ education, then the chances of getting victim reduces significantly. Therefore, ensuring ransomware protection should be a core part of cybersecurity measures in 2021.