In today’s cybersecurity landscape, ransomware attacks are one of the most common and scariest threats. This type of malware attack typically encrypts important files on one’s device and holds them hostage until payment is made to the attacker, usually in the form of cryptocurrency.
For any business that falls victim to these attacks, the consequences can be severe. In addition to losing crucial or sensitive data, a business will likely have long periods of downtime that will frustrate clients. To make matters worse, companies can’t just pay and get their stuff back. A new advisory from the OFAC says that if a company pays, it could be subject to federal fines, up to $20 million!
So, how can you avoid ransomware? There’s no one solution, but there are several very important steps you can take to greatly minimize the risk and lessen the impact if you are attacked.
1. Implement Endpoint Security
Endpoint security is both the first step and the last line of defense against all types of malware. A good security posture must start with this solution in order to be effective. The right endpoint solution can detect and prevent threats across all vectors, including ransomware.
Think of endpoint security as the foundation of your ransomware protection strategy. It alone will not be enough to ensure an attack is prevented, but it’s a crucial part of the plan and an essential tool for protecting your clients.
Don’t let end user devices go unprotected — get a comprehensive solution that covers desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and servers.
2. Secure the Inbox
If a company is suffering from malware of any kind, chances are that it was received through a malicious email that made its way to an employee’s inbox. One click on the wrong link and that business could be in for a devastating ransomware attack. In fact, 94% of all malware is delivered by email.
Implementing a comprehensive email security solution can help ensure that the malicious link never makes it to the inbox in the first place. With tools like spam detection, multilayer anti-virus, and a robust filter rules engine, email security can reduce the chances of a ransomware attack making its way to your system.
3. Get Anti-Phishing Tools
In addition to standard email protection, it’s important to make sure you’re giving clients tools to combat phishing attempts in their inbox.
These emails are designed to trick victims into giving away critical business information, such as logins, personal identifiable information (PII), and valuable files. Armed with this information, attackers have the keys to the kingdom and can cause as much damage as they want, including initiating a ransomware attack. According to Datto, 67% of all ransomware attacks come via a phishing email.
Phishing emails don’t typically include malware and thus can sometimes evade email filters. This is why it’s important to have a robust anti-phishing solution in place, so you can filter out phishing attempts, give employees tools to report suspicious emails, and even provide some level of anti-phishing training.
4. Block Malicious Websites with Web Security
Often times, a phishing email will direct users to a website made to look like a familiar login page or resource that requires sensitive information. This is how information can end up in the hands of attackers, and a ransomware attack can begin.
Web security solutions can block malicious websites like these, rendering the phishing attempt useless. It’s another great way to reduce your exposure to a possible attack, with the added benefit of being able to control access to legitimate websites in order to enhance employee productivity.
5. Provide End User Training
While all the tools mentioned so far can help prevent malicious links from reaching employees, the truth is that they might still find their way through the cracks. All it takes is one person in the organization to make a wrong decision and suddenly ransomware has taken over the entire system.
To further reduce the risk, it’s important to train employees on best security practices. Without training, 37.9% of employees are likely to click on a suspicious link. Only 14.1% are likely to after 90 days of training, and only 4.7% after one year of ongoing training.
This can give them the knowledge to spot and avoid suspicious emails, as well as to avoid unsafe practices like using unsecured equipment. With many employees shifting to a remote work environment, this type of training is more important than ever.
Luckily, you don’t necessarily have to develop or provide this training yourself, rather you can invest in a security training solution. These white-labeled services are designed for IT professionals and can provide end users with in-depth security awareness training on a variety of topics.
An organization is only as secure as its least secure employee, make sure they know what to do when a threat arrives.
6. Backup Your Data
Even if you’ve done everything in your power to prevent a ransomware attack, the risk is so great that you need to be ready if one strikes. Part of being ready means having a backup solution in place so that data can be recovered when it’s encrypted or deleted by attackers.
Many modern backup solutions are built with this possibility in mind and are designed to help recover data that was lost in a ransomware attack. A properly implemented disaster recovery solution can also help by reducing the cost of downtime from any outages that may occur.
A company may not realize how important their data is until it’s gone. Be prepared for the worst-case scenario by having a backup ready to go.
Are you prepared for ransomware?
Now that we’ve talked about what you could be doing to prevent ransomware, let’s talk about what you’re doing now.
Want to know how you’d fare if an attack happened today? You can take our ransomware quiz to see what it takes for a business to survive a ransomware attack and learn some more startling stats along the way.