Ransomware is the worst. It targets devices and systems, rendering them inaccessible until payment is made to the attacker. Once the ransomware is in place, the attacker effectively locks the legitimate user out until the ransom is paid. Historically, the attackers promised to provide a decryption key to unlock the affected device or system once the ransom was paid. In reality, it’s not that simple, and managed IT services in Orlando can help you avoid getting into this situation in the first place.
How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
Get the Basic Protections In Place
The following are three pretty basic steps. You might already be doing them, but if not, they’re an easy way to put a base layer of protection over your organization.
Scan All Your Emails
Use email scanning tools. These tools are designed to detect malicious software that may be present in email communications. Once malware is detected, the email can be automatically blocked or deleted, ensuring that it never reaches your inbox.
One common method that hackers use to spread malware through email is by embedding it in attachments or files within the body of the email. These files may appear to be harmless images or documents, but when clicked, they can install malware such as ransomware on your device. By regularly scanning email communications for these types of files, you can greatly reduce the risk of your device or network becoming infected.
Get Security Software and Keep It Updated
Having security software is best practice for preventing ransomware. The software works by continuously monitoring files that are coming into your computer from the internet. If it detects a malicious file, it will prevent the file from being executed on your computer.
Security software uses known threat profiles and malicious file types to identify potential dangers to your computer. As these are constantly being updated, it is important to keep your security software updated, so you keep up. Many providers offer free regular updates to their software. These updates include the latest threat profiles, ensuring that your software is always up-to-date, and providing the best protection it can.
Back Up EVERYTHING
Ransomware attackers often target organizations that rely heavily on specific data for their operations. This is because they hope victims may feel compelled to pay the ransom to regain access to data essential for their daily operations. One way to mitigate this risk is by regularly backing up important data.
By backing up your data to a separate device or location that is not connected to your computer, you can easily restore the data in the event of a successful attack. It is important to make sure you are frequently backing up all critical data as, over time, the data you have may become outdated. Regular backups ensure that you have access to the most recent versions of your important data, even in the face of a ransomware attack.
Go to the Next Level
With the basics in place, you can put on the next layer of protection. These involve a little more specialized understanding, some help from your IT professionals, and some training for your people.
Watch Your Clicks
When browsing the web, it’s important to be cautious about clicking on links from unknown sources. If a link seems suspicious, such as in a spam email or on a questionable website, it’s best to avoid it. This is because hackers often use malicious links to spread malware, including ransomware.
It’s crucial to not click on links that haven’t been verified or that come from untrustworthy sources, and not only must you educate yourself on how to avoid this, but you have to train your people not to do it, either.
Watch Your Downloads
Hackers frequently deploy malware on websites and use various tactics, such as manipulating content or using social engineering techniques, to lure users into clicking on a malicious link within a site. Social engineering is a tactic that hackers use to manipulate users into taking a specific action by using psychological tactics, such as fear of missing out.
It is not uncommon for the malicious link to appear legitimate and innocent. Be cautious when visiting a website or clicking on a link, especially if you are not familiar with the site or if the URL looks suspicious. Cybercriminals often create fake websites that mimic legitimate ones to trick users into clicking on the link. Always verify the URL of a website before downloading anything from it, and teach your people the same skills.
Firewalls can be an effective solution in protecting against ransomware attacks. By analyzing incoming and outgoing network traffic, a firewall can detect and block malware and other potential threats.
Additionally, next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) can use deep packet inspection (DPI) to inspect the contents of data, identifying and discarding any files that contain ransomware.
Protect Your Endpoints
Endpoint protection is another important aspect of safeguarding against ransomware. By shielding individual devices from certain types of traffic that are more likely to carry threats, endpoint protection can prevent your device from engaging with potentially harmful data.
Furthermore, it can block malicious applications that hackers may use to infect your endpoints with ransomware.
Use VPNs When Out and About
Public Wi-Fi networks are easy to access, so hackers can use them to spread malware like ransomware. To protect yourself, it’s important to use a company virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi and make it available to your people if they’re ever accessing your network from a public hotspot.
VPNs encrypt the data that is sent and received on your device while you’re connected to the internet, creating a secure “tunnel” for your data to pass through. Only someone with an encryption key can access this tunnel, and any data that passes through it can only be read by decrypting it. This makes it much harder for hackers to sneak into your connection and place malware on your device, effectively blocking ransomware.
Don’t Use Unknown USBs
A Universal Serial Bus (USB) device may seem harmless, but it can be used to store a malicious file that contains ransomware. Even if the USB only contains an executable file that can infect your computer, or if the file is launched automatically when you insert the USB device, it can take very little time for the USB to compromise your computer.
Cybercriminals sometimes leave USB devices in public places or use a seemingly innocent label on the USB to make it look like a free gift from a reputable company. Even though many modern computers are ditching the USB connections, some older ones still have them, and it’s important your people know never to use any USB device for company work that your company hasn’t provided.
Work With an Experienced Managed IT Company
The best protection you can have against attacks that are constantly evolving is to work with an IT company that keeps up with the latest security threats in cyberspace. This is their bread and butter: they keep up with all the latest malicious software, so you don’t have to.
What To Do If You’re Targeted
Isolate and Shut Down
Isolating the infected devices is crucial. The first step is to shut down the infected system to prevent it from being used by the malware to spread the ransomware further. Next, disconnect all network connections to the infected device, including any cables that connect the device to the network or other devices on the network. Shut down the Wi-Fi that serves the area infected with the ransomware.
Lastly, all storage devices connected to the network should be immediately disconnected to prevent the malware from potentially infecting them. Assume each storage device has been infected and clean them before allowing any devices in your network to attach to them.
Identify and Remove
Some ransomware attacks have known decryption keys, and identifying the malware can help determine if a decryption key is already available and can be used to unlock the infected device, thereby thwarting the attacker’s objective.
Additionally, identifying the malware can also aid in understanding the possible remediation options. To effectively deal with the threat, it is important for your managed IT services in Orlando to know the specific malware they are dealing with. Once they know what’s going on, they can then remove it. The timing of removal is important to preserve data and prevent the spread of malware, so don’t try to remove the malware until your security team know what they’re dealing with and say it’s safe.
Recover (and Never Pay)
You shouldn’t have any issues recovering your data if you regularly back it up. You might have lost a couple hours’ worth of data at most, depending on how frequently you back things up, but under no circumstances should you pay the ransom. Hackers rely on successfully extorting victims, and when victims refuse to pay, it makes it less attractive for attackers to continue their crimes.
Additionally, paying the ransom once may make you a more attractive target for future attacks. Attackers are aware that if you paid once, you may be more likely to pay again in the future. Finally, even if you do pay, you may not actually be given access, or you may find all your data corrupted.
The Best Managed IT Services in Orlando
At Cyber Command, we innovate services to meet the unique needs of every client, and we’re available 24/7 to keep you protected. Contact Cyber Command now and get protected against ransomware and every other cyber threat.