Ransomware attacks are a nightmare for all types of organizations, especially so for governmental organizations, hospitals, and emergency call centers. The attackers deny you access to important data and ask for ransom. Paying the ransom is also a slippery slope. You don’t know know if the hacker will fulfill his side of the bargain or not. Thus, it is better to protect your data and prevent hackers from laying his/her hands on important documents. Here we will discuss the 9 best practices for preventing a ransomware attack.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
Ransomware is a cyber-attack in which the attackers send malware to your system. This malware encrypts the files in your computer and denies you access to the data. The hacker asks for ransom in return for the decryption key. Ransomware attacks are common on the organizational level.
There are techniques to identify a data breach whilst its ongoing. However, becoming aware is not enough. You need to prevent the attack and minimize damage in case the hacker successfully pulls off the ransomware technique. Here are the 7 best practices for preventing ransomware attacks.
1. Up-to-Date Lists of Connected Devices
Prepare a list of all the connected devices on your network. Collaborate with the departments within your organization and discover all the software and hardware assets. Remove any unauthorized device from the network. Once you have prepared the list, revise it periodically. This step will help you identify the attacking device just in time.
2. Build a Backup Resource
Backups can save the day in case of ransomware infections. Cybersecurity professionals recommend backup as the single most effective strategy to recover from a ransomware attack. Keep the important data offline or on some device that is not on the same network. You can also back up the document on a cloud. Hence, If the malware encrypts all files, you still have the non-encrypted version on the cloud. Nevertheless, keep checking data now and then to make sure the backup is uninfected.
3. Avoid Clicking on Suspicious Emails
The most common form of ransomware attack is phishing emails. In order to stay safe avoid opening such emails. Sometimes the email may seem to be from a familiar site, e-commerce service provider, or even a bank. However, if you have suspicion then it is better to delete it right away. Afterward, you can send an email to the sender and confirm whether they sent anything your way.
4. Consider Port Settings
Ransomware hackers can exploit open ports such as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) port 3389 for data breaches. Review the setting of these ports and reconsider whether they should be left open. Limit the connections to only trusted hosts. Additionally, you can disable the unused RDP ports and Server Message Block (SMB) port 445.
5. Only Use Known Storage Devices
Cybercriminals sometimes lay around a malicious USB or storage device. As soon as the device is attached to a computer, the malware enters to thwart the network. A famous example of such a cybersecurity breach is Stuxnet Computer Virus that entered the Iranian Nuclear facility via infected USB sticks. Therefore, refrain from sticking unknown devices into your network.
6. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
Do not use public Wi-Fi on your computer that contains sensitive data. Public networks can compromise cybersecurity. However, if it’s necessary to connect then use a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN). Enable VPNs, especially when doing important financial transactions.
7. Do not Share Personal Information
Sharing personal information with untrusted sources can be detrimental to your cybersecurity. Hackers often plan their ransomware attacks in light of the host’s personal information. This makes their message more effective. Hence, avoid any suspicious calls, messages, or emails, requesting personal information. You can also contact the source to confirm whether the message is real or not.
8. Install the latest Updates on Operating Systems
Operating systems and software are regularly upgraded by manufacturers to deal with the latest security threats. Keeping up with these updates will protect you against ransomware attacks. Hence, install the new update and keep your operating systems up to date for avoiding vulnerability.
9. Train Stakeholders
The stakeholders within your organization need to be aware of security risks. Teach them about cybersecurity measures and their importance. Hold monthly meetings and train employees on how to avoid malware from entering their systems. Making the organization’s digital presence secure is everyone’s responsibility. Thus, make sure to train stakeholders about their role in this regard.
Ransomware attacks can be prevented with pre-emptive measures. However, once the strike has occurred you need to quickly identify the damage and fill the loopholes. Most companies fail to acknowledge the threat while others learn about the attack when it’s too late.
With an increasing number of cyber-attacks, companies need to invest time, money, and resources into cybersecurity. This number is worth every penny because the damage caused by ransomware attacks can have a far greater cost.