5 Strategic Approaches to Preventing Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is a looming threat for organizations of all types and sizes. A ransomware attack can cripple your organization and may take days or weeks to recover from.

How can you reduce the risk of getting hit by a ransomware attack? Read on to discover five strategic approaches that can help prevent ransomware from striking your organization.

What Ransomware Is and Why It’s an Issue

Ransomware is malicious software that infiltrates a computer system and encrypts essential data. The culprits behind the attack demand that a ransom be paid to obtain a decryption key and return the targeted system to normal operation. Some attackers also threaten to release exfiltrated data if the ransom isn’t paid.

A ransomware attack can be devastating. Even if you pay the ransom it can take weeks to recover your data and return to normal. If you choose not to pay the ransom you must find other ways to recover your data, with varying chances of success.

It’s not a theoretical threat. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, a new ransomware attack occurs every 11 seconds. The Sophos State of Ransomware 2021 Report reveals that 37% of all U.S. organizations were affected by ransomware attacks last year. Cybereason reports that almost two-thirds of the targeted organizations experienced revenue loss and 53% said their reputations were damaged. According to the Coveware Quarterly Ransomware Report, the average downtime after a ransomware attack was 21 days.

All of these are reasons why your organization needs to take ransomware seriously – and develop effective strategies to guard against potential attack.

5 Strategies to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

There are a number of strategies that can guard against ransomware attacks. Here are five that can mitigate your risk and better protect your organization’s valuable digital assets.

Strategy 1: Develop an Incident Response Plan

What happens if your organization victim to a ransomware attack? To prepare for that potentiality, task your IT security team with developing a detailed incidence response plan that spells out what should happen in the event of an attack. It should detail the roles of each department and of key individuals, so that everyone knows their essential responsibilities. The goal is to shut down the attack as soon as it’s discovered, recover any lost data, and return your operations to normal as soon as possible.

Strategy 2: Require Frequent Patches and Updates

Many types of ransomware are known to exploit known vulnerabilities. If your IT staff does not regularly update key software and operating systems, attackers can infiltrate your system through these vulnerabilities even though security patches may have already been issued. Instruct your staff to install all security patches and updates as soon as they become available. This should apply not just to your primary systems and software, but also to third-party and custom software used throughout your organization.

Strategy 3: Reduce the Potential Attack Surface

Another effective strategy is to minimize the number of assets and touchpoints exposed to the external world. Shrinking the potential attack surface gives attackers fewer things to possibly exploit.

To reduce the number of potential targets for ransomware attackers, start by mapping your network. You need to know every system and device connected to your network, including and especially personal devices used by remote workers. You should seek to eliminate unnecessary or duplicative hardware, software, and systems. All remaining devices and systems then need to be hardened against potential attack.

Strategy 4: Implement a Zero Trust Access Model

Most ransomware attacks come when a single individual in your organization is compromised, typically via malware attached to an email. The more access that individual has to your systems, the faster and further the ransomware can spread.

To limit the potential spread of ransomware, limit the amount of access users have to your network. The best approach is to employ a zero-trust access model. In a zero-trust model no user, device, or IP address is given blanket access to network resources. Access is limited solely to users who need access to specific data or services, and then only after they’ve been verified and authorized. Since most ransomware requires administrator privileges to launch, this serves as robust protection against infiltration.

Strategy 5: Increase Employee Awareness

Perhaps the best defense against ransomware is to raise employee awareness of the threat. Since most ransomware is spread via email and other external communications, train your workforce to spot suspicious or phishing emails, especially those with unexpected attachments, and notify IT security staff. When everyone in your organization is security conscious, ransomware becomes less of a threat.

Bonus Strategy: Use Wickr for Secure Communications

According to Statista, 54% of ransomware infections initiate from phishing emails that contain malicious attachments. You can dramatically reduce the risk of ransomware by eliminating email from your communications mix. Wickr’s secure communications and collaboration platform replaces email for all internal communications. All text, voice, and video communications are secured by military-grade end-to-end encryption to protect against ransomware and other malicious activities. It’s one of the best strategies you can employ to reduce the ransomware threat.

Contact Wickr today to learn more about using secure communications to combat ransomware.