How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware

It seems that every day a new story breaks about another business falling victim to ransomware. Even if organizations are aware of the risks, there is still ambiguity about responding effectively to these attacks.

The statistics from 2020 paint a bleak picture:

  • The largest ransomware demand was $65 million for a single breach
  • Ransomware payments averaged about $794,000 compared to just over $300,000 in 2019
  • The biggest payment for a ransomware demand was more than $15 million
  • From all the payments made to ransomware criminals, 98% received the encryption key

Dealing with these types of ransomware attacks isn’t easy. Being prepared for it is the best way to recover. 67% of organizations that suffered an attack could restore some or all of their systems from backups.

With over 300 million attacks and 127 new ransomware families discovered in 2020, protecting your business won’t be easy. Let’s look at what you can do to protect your business from ransomware and improve your disaster recovery strategies in the coming year.

6 Ways You Can Prevent Ransomware Attacks from Ruining Your Business

The WannaCry ransomware worm is now the most prevalent threat out there. Its use surged from 2020 and what’s worse is that a patch for the EternalBlue exploit used by WannaCry has been available since 2017. This is why businesses need to implement the following six cybersecurity controls as soon as possible to help protect company networks.

1. Update All Business Applications Immediately

As mentioned above, updating all your software as soon as new patches become available is the best way to prevent ransomware exploits from getting into your system. It’s not enough to update your security systems and antivirus solutions. Every single workstation needs the latest patches from the operating system’s provider, application vendors, and any middleware you use in your environment.

You should create an updated schedule for all your business applications and if you use any legacy software, consider virtualization to ring-fence it from your corporate network.

2. Establish a Disaster Recovery Plan

To mitigate the risk of a successful attack, implement a disaster recovery plan that includes backing up all your data and testing recovery processes frequently. A disaster recovery plan doesn’t just require you to have backups in place. You need to establish a system that houses your backed-up data either offsite or outside the network and frequently test your return to service processes.

Encrypting your backups is another essential requirement, as it means no one can access your data. If exfiltration does occur, there is no risk of the ransomware attacker releasing sensitive data to the public.

3. Educate Employees with Awareness Campaigns

Employees remain the weakest link in your defense. If an email does get through your firewalls and network security tools, an employee clicking on a malicious link can infect your entire system. Running awareness campaigns and establishing a reporting system is the best way to avoid these situations entirely.

If your employees know the risks, they’ll be able to practice caution both from inside your networks and on their own devices.

4. Deploy the Latest Authentication Protocols

Authentication and access control prevent a compromised account from spreading through your networks. Multifactor authentication (MFA) and a zero-trust framework can protect your systems even if one device or user becomes infected with ransomware.

Identity and access management requires you to define permissions on the most granular level possible. You should also regularly revoke permissions to ensure no dangling accounts can still access your systems.

5. Encrypt Communications and Data

To avoid becoming a target for ransomware, you should encrypt all your data both in transit and at rest. You can prevent any sniffers from extracting valuable information. If anyone does get into a network, the only data they will access will be from that account.

End-to-end encryption is the best way to secure information both inside your corporate network and when communicating over the internet.

6. Monitor User Behavior for Suspicious Activity

Lastly, deploy monitoring tools that monitor user behavior and alert you to any suspicious activity.

Suspicious behavior may include:

  • Accessing data that isn’t part of the user’s daily tasks
  • Accessing information outside of regular office hours
  • Transferring large sets of data between endpoints or nodes on the network
  • Receiving multiple failed authentication requests

Any of these could indicate that a user’s device or account is compromised and cybercriminals are trying to extract your data before launching a ransomware attack. Cybersecurity tools allow you to baseline user behavior and create customized alerts or notifications when accounts start straying outside the usual parameters.

Deploy Secure Communications with Wickr

Protecting your organization from ransomware attacks should not impede your communication inside the company. Wickr provides industry-leading collaboration and communication tools that use end-to-end encryption to protect your information at every stage.

For complete protection of all your communication and data sharing processes, discuss your cybersecurity requirements with an expert from Wickr today.