The threat of ransomware protection can keep CTOs and IT specialists of different levels worldwide awake all night long. When ransomware bypasses the cybersecurity measures and gets inside the IT environment of an organization, unplanned infrastructure downtime is the typical consequence. That is surely an unwanted yet least serious problem arising. The consequences following it are much more devastating. Avoid cyber Scams follow the Guest Posting as we provide you most updated technology news.
In addition to financial losses due to the unavailability of services, an organization risks suffering critical data exposure or loss. Further legal issues and reputational decreases caused by noncompliance and ransomware prevention failure are critical. When combined with the destruction of digital infrastructure, such problems can be a threat not only to the financial wellbeing of an organization. Those can threaten an organization’s operation and even existence.
In this article, we will show how organizations can prevent ransomware infections from shutting down IT environments and altering data. For general recommendations on ransomware prevention and protection, continue reading the post.
Table of Contents
How Does Ransomware Work?
Ransomware is a type of malware that gets inside an IT system and starts sneakily encrypting the reachable data files and objects. Most frequently, users remain unaware of malware presence until they see a third-party message on the OS’s desktop about their files being encrypted. Along with that, the ransomware displays a message from hackers about the ransom demand for the decryption key till a certain deadline. Otherwise, the encrypted data is promised to be made publicly available or deleted.
The major difficulty here is that, if you don’t have the appropriate decryption key, you most probably won’t be able to decrypt your data once ransomware encrypts it. Hackers use advanced encryption algorithms to prevent the decryption of their ransomware strains with the help of any other solution. Simply put, even today’s most high-performing supercomputers would take years to complete data decryption in that case.
Effective Ransomware Prevention and Protection Measures
Along with the development of ransomware, the measures of cyber protection are also evolving.
Keeping in mind that any organization or individual present online can become a target of a ransomware attack, particular measures for preventing and mitigating ransomware infections should be applied regardless of circumstances. The following best practices for ransomware prevention and protection are the universal recommendations that can strengthen data resilience against ransomware regardless of the organization’s size, type, and market branch.
Most ransomware infections are delivered via the breaches in the organization’s cyber protection that employees open. For example, a sales manager opens an email that seems to be legitimate, downloads an attachment, or clicks the link in that email, and that action lets ransomware into the system. An employee can either be unaware of a threat or act on the hackers’ benefit purposely, but the result remains the same – the IT system of an organization gets infected with ransomware.
Therefore, an educated employee is probably the most reliable element of any organization’s ransomware prevention checklist. When your employees are aware of potential threats expecting them online, they are less likely to carelessly discard protection measures. A person knowing that a single click on an email link or attachment may result in serious financial and reputational damage for an organization due to data loss will double-check everything before taking action.
Principle of least privilege
The principle of least privilege (aka PoLP) is a standard data protection rule that can help you prevent ransomware infections. It supposes granting users only the minimum access rights inside the digital infrastructure. If an action inside the virtual environment of an organization can be prohibited without causing discomfort or reducing the performance of an employee doing their job, then a responsible IT specialist should prohibit that action. By going that way, an organization can prevent hackers from reaching critical protected data after breaking into a less secure node or account.
A role-based access model is among the most reliable choices to implement the principle of least privilege inside the organization’s environment. With role-based access solutions applied, you can configure separate groups with the required user permissions. When groups are created and configured, you just add the particular users to the required group to grant them the required access rights and allowed actions. Excluding the user from the group when necessary is equally simple and fast. With role-based access solutions, the chance for human error and misconfiguration of user permissions is much lower as you don’t need to set accesses for every employee separately.
Digital threat monitoring software
The secure IT perimeter is important, but even the most advanced cyber protection system does not guarantee a 100% safe environment and instant threat neutralization. To monitor the situation in real-time and to react to dangerous activities outside or inside your organization’s IT system, you need a cyberattack warning solution installed. With that monitoring software in place, you can drastically reduce the possibility of a sneaky ransomware injection. Additionally, with notifications set up to inform you about any suspicious activity directed towards the organization’s infrastructure you can react quickly and counter destructive processes before your IT security measures fall and let ransomware reach critical data.
Timely software and system updates
Software developers and OS vendors try to eliminate vulnerabilities in their products as quickly as possible by releasing security patches. By regularly updating the software used to run your organization’s services and internal and external processes you apply the latest security measures. This can help you cover the majority of possible known backdoors that ransomware might otherwise use to infiltrate into your environment.
Outdated software can have security vulnerabilities that have been made publicly known. Consequently, hackers can try exploiting those vulnerabilities to infiltrate the environments and reach the data of individuals or organizations. In addition, an antivirus without a timely updated database of malware signatures may not detect the freshest malware strains, including the most sophisticated ransomware.
A simply built flat network without internal barriers is any hacker’s dream. When your organization’s network is not divided into isolated segments and subsegments, that means the attacker only needs to bypass the external protection layer and inject the malicious code inside the system. Then, nothing can stop ransomware from rapidly spreading across the entire network to encrypt or delete the data at reach.
To prevent that scenario and reduce the area open for hackers to strike across, you can go in for network segmentation and micro-segmentation. That means dividing your main network into the required number of smaller network zones with managed, monitored, and limited access to each.
Here comes the moment to mention one critical thing: no matter how advanced and well-built your IT cyber security system is, it will be bypassed one day. Ransomware prevention by countering hackers’ infiltration attempts can be effective to some point. Still, practice shows that organizations need to have an emergency plan to use when all protection measures fail and ransomware takes control of critical data and infrastructure. The only reliable way to restore data after the security breach occurs and the data loss incident happens is to use the relevant data backup.
The complexity of contemporary IT infrastructures and the amount of data that needs to be processed and backed up pose challenges when speaking of backup strategies. In short, the backup process should be automated and centralized to meet the needs of even the smallest organization. From the viewpoint of cost and efficiency balance, the most suitable choice to organize the backup and recovery processes is to pick a contemporary backup software solution. That can help you ensure the relevance of the backup data.
The practice of data backups is not new to the IT industry, even though many organizations do not apply it. Cybercriminals are aware of that practice as well, that is why they can specifically target backup storage when designing their malicious code or planning an attack. If ransomware encrypts backups, the organization won’t be able to use them for recovery.
To prevent that situation, pick a data protection software solution that can enable you to set immutability periods for backups. With immutability activated, your backup copies remain protected from any change, thus preventing ransomware from encrypting or deleting your backup data. With immutable backups at hand, you can successfully recover data even when ransomware reaches your backup storage.
Regular backup testing
Unfortunately, the fact that you have backups does not mean they are recoverable. And surely the worst time to find out that backups won’t recover is when the original critical data is already lost to ransomware. For effective ransomware protection, your backups should be ready for recovery at any moment.
To ensure the recoverability of stashed backups, introduce a regular testing process. Contemporary universal backup solutions enable you to verify recently created or updated backups by automatically launching a recovery test and then reporting about the results.
Fastest recovery possible
Having regularly updated relevant data backups with confirmed recoverability at hand is not enough. The real efficiency of modern data protection solutions is defined by another key parameter, which is recovery time. To maintain access to the critical data and infrastructure elements, the recovery should be near-instant.
Fortunately, modern software solutions for data backup can recover full VMs, as well as separate files and objects directly from backups, and enable organizations to restore production in minutes. Additionally, automated disaster recovery sequences activated with a single tap can help you quickly restore whole virtual infrastructures in response to different disaster scenarios.
The last but not least important ransomware prevention recommendation may seem controversial, but it should be said. If your organization has fallen victim to a ransomware attack, avoid paying hackers regardless of circumstances. After the data is encrypted, hackers are those who control your data and the entire situation. You can only rely on the word of criminals, which means there is no guarantee that they’ll keep their part of the deal after you send money.
At the same time, paying ransom to hackers for a decryption key means showing that their criminal activities are profitable and encouraging them to conduct more attacks. Additionally, the funds received from attacked organizations can be invested in the development of more advanced ransomware strains and more sophisticated attacks. Finally, paying hackers once may make you a priority target for new attacks.
Among plenty of cyber security recommendations, the following ransomware protection best practices can enhance the IT infrastructure’s resilience with relatively small effort:
- End-user education
- Principle of least privilege
- Timely system and software updates
- Digital threat monitoring software
- Network segmentation
However, any protection system can be bypassed, and the organization needs a plan to use after ransomware encrypts the original data. Regaining control over that data without a decryption key is barely possible. From that perspective, the best ransomware protection for business, non-profit, governmental, and any other organizations is a reliable backup solution.
When thoroughly chosen and used, that solution can help you avoid paying ransom to hackers, noncompliance issues, financial and reputational losses. One such reliable solution to secure data from ransomware attacks is NAKIVO ransomware protection.