Reliable Tips That Will Prevent You From Being Victimized by Ransomware
In spite of the fact that it’s causing millions of dollars of cybercrime-related damage to businesses annually, not many enterprise computer users truly understand what ransomware is. Naturally, till the time WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks became global discussion points in the first half of 2017, even the general understanding of this form of cybercrime wasn’t any good. A recent survey done with business executives revealed that 1 in 3 would agree to pay to retrieve stolen or locked data. For organizations that have already been targeted once, the percentage becomes almost double (55%).
A Refresher on Ransomware
Ransomware is perpetrated via spam links and phishing emails, which eventually lead to the installation of codes that lock out your computer’s data, after which the perpetrators ask you to pay ransom to get the data unlocked. Because business and massive financial value (even if it’s notional) it’s clear that the ‘revenue model’ of ransomware will keep on motivating cybercriminals to advance their means and methods. The responsibility of keeping your data secure rests with you. And there’s a lot you can do. Read on.
Become a Data Backup Ninja
Why would anybody pay a ransom if they had another copy of the locked data available! The way to do so has become a process at backing up your business data. For starters, you have the option of storing your data in external hard disks. That’s because the costs per GB of this mode of storage are dropping regularly. Then, there are many affordable clouds based storage service that you can trust to automatically sync up your imports data folders to an online database, ensuring you always have the latest data backup ready. Even cybersecurity experts agree; next to having a reliable anti ransomware software protecting your computers, taking regular backups is the best way to stay safe from ransomware.
Separate Personal and Work Activity to Different Hardware
Your business data is invaluable. Separating business and personal work to different hardware can be a pain, but the rewards are worth the pain.
Invariably, the applications and web-based tools you use for personal work aren’t half as secured as the applications that your business’ IT team takes care of. Don’t let convenience become a cause of falling prey to ransomware.
Educate End Users about Ransomware Cyber Crime and Related Tactics
Lack of awareness that cyber criminals are out there on the prowl is a major reason why people end up as victims of ransomware. To make things better, leading organizations are already using these strategies:
- Conducting regular training to make employees aware of terms such as spear phishing, social engineering, etc.
- Simulating social engineering attacks with the help of internal IT to showcase vulnerability
- Making it mandatory for end users to pass regular security quizzes and tests
It’s high time you used a mix of these strategies.
Patch, patch, and patch
Ransomware primarily targets minute security flaws in popularity enterprise software. By keeping applications at their best stable state ensures you plug the monitor gaps that cybercriminals can otherwise exploit.
Thankfully, most enterprise software vendors release security upgrades frequently. The best practices are to always embrace these upgrades. Activate the automatic update option for your business applications.
Add Later After Layer of Security
Having a layered approach to foil ransomware attacks in particular and malware in general works great guns for a business. This means making the conscious effort to not depend on a single mechanism of keeping ransomware at bay. So, a firewall won’t do alone. It must be supplemented by strong antivirus, with specific ransomware combat capabilities.
Thankfully, this doesn’t always mean that you have to inflate your cybersecurity budgets because most security products tend to anyways bring in a layered protection approach. Also, remember that most ransomware codes run execution files from the Windows App Data folder or the equivalent folder on other operating systems. So, disable the permissions for executable files to be run from these locations.
Restrict Privileges of Computers Operating As A Part of a Network
The big difference that ransomware makes on a computer that’s a part of a large network is that once one of the computers if affected, the ransomware can duplicate itself on all other computers in the network, and hence, multiply the damage. This is exactly why cybercrime groups target business networks most often.
Ransomware gets the same privileges as the computer it’s hosted in. So, if an infected computer has local or global admin privileges, the ransomware will be able to use the same wrack havoc. Surely enough, such a network will witness most computers infected with the same ransomware, because of the lack of control over admin privileges.
You’d much rather struggle with ransomware on one computer, than ransomware on the entire network.
Use Latest Versions of Web Browsers
Since most ransomware installations initiate from web activity, you need to do everything possible to keep your Internet sessions safe. One reliable method is to always update Mozilla Firefox, IE, Chrome, or whichever browser you’re using because the upgrades invariably make the browser more secure against newer kinds of malware.
Be Convinced Before You Open a File
We’re living in times where we encounter attempts of cyber-crime (of varying intensity) almost every day. Drastic problems call for drastic measures; one of them is to be careful about what you click on and open from the web. Emails, in particular, are a primary source for cybercriminals to send carefully planned messages with infected files, or malicious links, which lead to malware (specifically, ransomware) installations. So, if you make it a practice to question the source of emails before opening any attached files, you will significantly improve your prospects of staying protected from ransomware.
As we finish finalizing this piece, the Atlanta ransomware attack news (25 March 2018) is beginning to send the world into another frenzy! These are tough times; stay secure.
Author – Rahul Sharma