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How to Prevent Ransomware in 2021: Best Practices

By June 30, 2021No Comments
Prevent Ransomware

A ransomware attack is probably the scariest cybersecurity attack. It can shut down your whole business for weeks and damage your business reputation. Ransomware will also open the door for new data breaches. In this article, we are going to share best practices that you can follow for preventing a ransomware attack.

What is a Ransomware attack?

Ransomware is a special malware. It can lock or encrypt your data. Hackers will demand a ransom from the victim in exchange for a key which they can use for unlocking the files. Ransomware is very similar to malware. The attack will start when a malicious payload will enter your network. This can happen due to infected hardware, corrupt attachment, corrupt link, or a computer worm.

Most attackers are using phishing emails for sending payloads. This email will generally use the social engineering attack for tricking users. If your employees fall for this trick, then the malware will get installed on their devices. This malware will start spreading to other connected systems. Attackers will lock all your systems and ask for a ransom. They will leak your sensitive information if you don’t pay the ransom.

You might need to pay ransom for getting your data back. This attack will also hurt your relationship with customers and partners. It will disrupt your daily operations and IT services. Your customer information can also get leaked.

There is no guarantee that the attacker will give you keys after getting a ransom. Sometimes they can leak your data even after getting ransom.

How to prevent Ransomware attacks?

Ransomware is dangerous for both enterprises and SMBs. Thus, every company needs to protect its business from this cyber threat. We are going to share some best practices which will help you in protecting your business.

  1. Firewall

A firewall is very important for your IT network. It will protect you against ransomware. Firewalls will help you in scanning the outgoing and incoming traffic for risks. This will ensure that your security team can monitor your network for malicious payloads.

You should set up threat hunting for supporting your firewall activity. Also, make sure that your firewall is evaluating your traffic for important data and services. Your firewall should also support DPI or deep packet inspection. This will ensure that your firewall can examine the data content.

  1. Use backups

You should use immutable backup for protecting your data. It is similar to data backup. However, no one can delete or change data in the immutable backup. This type of backup can protect your business from ransomware attacks. In case of a ransomware attack, the immutable backup will ensure that you don’t need to pay any ransom. You can quickly recover your data and start your operations. Attackers can’t delete your immutable backup.

Make sure that you are backing up your data multiple times every day. You should store one backup offline and another backup online. In case of a ransomware attack, you can wipe your old systems and restore the data from backup.

You should regularly test your data backups. This will ensure that your backup is actually working. However, attackers will still get access to your sensitive data. They can sell or leak this data on the dark web. Thus, you should also use take precautions for protecting your data.

  1. Network segmentation

Ransomware needs to move through your network for reaching sensitive data. You can use network segmentation for stopping intruders from moving freely. Make sure that every subsystem has its own unique access policies and security controls. You should also install a firewall in every system.

Network segmentation will ensure that attackers won’t get access to your important data. Attackers need to break through every segment. This will give enough time to your IT security team. Your IT security team can detect and isolate the threat in this timeframe.

  1. Staff awareness

Your employees are generally the weakest cybersecurity link in your business. Attackers will target your employees for sending the payload. Thus, you should regularly conduct security training programs. These programs will help you in training your employees.

Make sure that your employees know about phishing attacks. Your employees should know how to identify a phishing attack. They should know about safe browsing practices. Your employees should use strong passwords for protecting their systems. They should update their systems regularly.

  1. Regular security test

A vulnerability assessment can help you in finding weaknesses in your network. These assessment tests will help you in finding vulnerabilities in your network. Some of your systems might be misconfigured. These systems can act as a backdoor for attackers. There might be some flaws in your access privileges. You should ensure that your authentication mechanism is working properly.

Make sure that your employees are using strong passwords. If your employees are using easy passwords, then attackers can use a brute force attack. Database errors can also lead to SQL injection attacks.

You can identify these weaknesses by performing a vulnerability assessment. If you want stricter testing, then you should go for penetration testing. In penetration testing, security experts will try to get into your network. They will test your system and check your staff’s response.

  1. Sandbox

Sandboxes are test or isolated environments. You can run your programs in the sandbox without affecting your network. This is mostly used for software testing. However, your IT security team can test malicious software in the sandbox. You can use the sandbox for detecting malware in your network. It will add an extra layer of protection. Thus, it will help you in protecting your business from ransomware.

  1. Password policies

Your employees should understand the need for strong passwords. If you have an average password policy, then you should work on improving it. Most people use the same password on every website. They also use easy passwords because they can easily remember easy passwords.

However, attackers can exploit this behavior. You should ensure that your employees are using strong passwords. These passwords must be updated regularly. If your employees are using weak passwords, then attackers can use a brute-force attack. You should also use multi-factor authentication that requires employees and users to verify their identities. This will ensure that attackers can’t access your network even after getting access to your employee’s password.

  1. Endpoint protection

You should focus on protecting all the endpoint devices present in your network. These endpoint devices will include IoT devices, mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. If you are using wireless devices, then they can act as an entry point for attackers. You should ensure that you are protecting these devices from attackers.

Make sure that you are blocking apps and traffic that can lead to a data breach. Your employees should follow safe browsing practices. You should also ensure that all the devices have the latest patches installed in them.

Endpoint protection will also grant good visibility to your network admins. This will ensure that they can quickly look for the compromised device.

  1. BYOD restrictions

Bring your own device policy can help you in increasing the productivity of your employees. However, this policy comes with its own risk. If your employees are using their own devices, then they act as a backdoor in your network. You should create a strict BYOD policy. Make sure that your employees can use their devices for a specific purpose only. Your employee’s devices must have a different Wi-Fi network.

  1. CASB

If you are using cloud technology, then you can consider using a CASB or cloud access security broker. CASB will help you in protecting your cloud data from ransomware. It is cloud-based or on-prem software that will act as a link between your data and cloud users. You can improve your cloud security by using CASB.

It will help you in monitoring all your cloud activity. You can enforce your security policies by using CASB. CASB will ensure that you are following security compliance. It will help you in securing data flows between cloud environments and in-house setups.

  1. Use Ad Blockers

Make sure that your employees are using ad blockers in their browsers. This will help browsers automatically blocking all the pop-up ads. These ads mostly contain malicious software. Most attackers are still using malicious ad marketing for spreading their malware. All you need to do is install a free adblocker from the extension store. This will help your employees in blocking all the annoying ads.

  1. Block Script executions

Attackers can send .exe or .zip files by binding them with malicious JavaScript code. This javascript code will execute in your browser and will download the malicious files in your system. Sometimes attackers can also send malicious files in the .zip or .rar archive. You can prevent this attack by disabling the Script host. Make sure that your devices can’t execute these scripts. It is one of the easiest methods to protect your network.

  1. Check file extensions

Attackers will try to trick your employees by changing the file name to Checklist.xlsx. Your employees will think that it is an excel file. Thus, they will download the file in their systems without thinking twice. If you have enabled file extensions in your system, then you will see that the file name is Checklist.xlsx.exe. Make sure that your employees can check the file extensions. This will help you in reducing the chance of an attack. Your users can easily identify malware files.

  1. Principle of Least Privilege

Make sure that you are using the principle of least privilege. This principle states that your employees should only have access to the data and devices that they need for completing their tasks. Your graphic designers don’t need access to your financial data. Similarly, your financial team doesn’t need access to your IT files.

You should restrict the access of your employees. This will also help you in reducing the damage of a security breach. Attackers can’t access your entire network even after getting your employee’s credentials.

  1. Email security

If you want to protect your business from ransomware attacks, then you should by improving your email security. Make sure that you are using the best email security practices. This will help you in protecting your network from social engineering and phishing attacks.

You should filter out emails that have files with suspicious extensions. Make sure that your email servers can automatically reject emails from known malware and spammers. You can also use SPFs and DMARC technology for protecting your emails.

There are various 3rd-party email scanning tools available in the market. These tools will provide extra protection to your network. You can use these tools for discovering and isolating ransomware attacks before the malicious files reach your network.

  1. Update your software

Ransomware will generally use known security bugs and loopholes that are present in your business software. You should update all the software that you are using. Make sure that your OS is up-to-date. You should also update your firewall and anti-malware programs. The virus definition of an anti-malware program should be updated regularly. If you are using IDS systems, then you should upgrade them regularly.

Ransomware attacks are like other malware attacks. They keep evolving with time. Attackers are always updating their strategies and trying to exploit the latest vulnerability. Thus, you should use update your systems every day.

What to do if your network is infected with ransomware?

You should have a disaster recovery plan. This disaster recovery plan will help you in recovering from a ransomware attack. It will generally include these steps:

  1. Isolate: You should first find and isolate the infected system. This will ensure that the attack won’t spread to other network segments.
  2. Identify the malware: You should identify the malware that has infected your system.
  3. Report: You should report the breach. Some authorities can help you in dealing with this attack.
  4. Analyze: You should check the data that is encrypted by attackers.
  5. Recover your data: You should recover your data from the last available backup.
  6. Look for backdoors: Most attackers will leave a backdoor in your network. This will ensure that they can hack into your network in the future. You should look for backdoors in your network.

How Bleuwire can help your business?

If you don’t have a good IT team, then you will find it difficult to protect your business from attackers. In such cases, you should consider working with a good MSP. Experienced MSPs like Bleuwire have access to a large IT team. They have access to the best IT security professionals. Bleuwire will help you in improving the security of your network. They will ensure that your network is protected from ransomware attacks. You don’t need to worry about dealing with ransomware attacks alone. In case of an attack, Bleuwire will help you in quickly recovering your systems and data. If you need more information regarding IT security services, then you can contact Bleuwire.

Contact us today to learn about Bleuwire™  services and solutions in how we can help your business.

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