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Getting Primed for Ransomware Attacks in 2022

Ransomware attacks have unfortunately become all too common. Ransomware has crippled large enterprises, gas pipelines, institutions, and even cities, forcing them to make heavy ransom payments. What then can you do to avoid and fend off a ransomware attack?

Ransomware attacks can be highly damaging, yet they are virtually entirely avoidable. Companies that establish a solid cybersecurity foundation will be significantly less susceptible to attack. Safeguarding yourself and your company from a ransomware attack boils down to putting in place basic cybersecurity protection. Follow these five ransomware prevention techniques to strengthen your company's security and avoid succumbing to this all-too-common threat.

1. Maintain Backups

To preserve the integrity of your data, make sure you have sufficient backups set up and test your restores on a routine basis. To avoid a ransomware attack, encrypt and store your backups on air-gapped hardware that is unreachable from the internet and your company's local network. Back up your files using the 3-2-1 technique, which involves saving three copies on your local device, two in the cloud, one offline, and an additional monthly offsite backup.

2. Maintain a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

A cybersecurity incident response plan (also known as an IR plan) is a set of guidelines developed to help organizations prepare for, detect, respond to, and recover from network security breaches. Most IR strategies are tech-focused and address concerns such as intrusion detection, data theft, and service disruptions. However, since any significant cyber assault can have a wide-ranging impact on a business, the plan should also cover other areas such as HR, finance, customer support, internal communications, public relations, partners, legal, suppliers, and other external entities.

Your security incident response plan should ideally be employed continuously — it should be a dynamic document — to guide recurring detection and mitigation operations (threat scouting, cyber incident investigations, incident handling, and recovery). You can enhance IT and security hygiene and effectively defend your organization from unknown threats, concealed intruders, and potentially prevent a cyber-attack by executing ongoing detection and incident response operations.

3. Run Regular Patches

A security patch is a security update that software developers regularly send to all software devices requiring the update. Since the hole or vulnerability is not detected before the original program or significant update is deployed, these patch updates are stalled. Security patches close security gaps that were not addressed earlier.

This means that with every security patch release, hundreds of people have been compromised due to the flaw or vulnerability, and the developers have been alerted. Immediately a hole or vulnerability is discovered, the developer creates a patch update to push out, figuratively 'patching it up.

The caveat here is that the patch will not fix the vulnerabilities unless the user or system administrator installs the patch right away.

Patching system and software vulnerabilities regularly may have saved many firms a lot of time, frustration, and dollars. For instance, the  WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 took advantage of a flaw in older versions of the Server Message Block protocol. Although Microsoft issued a patch for the bug earlier in the year, the Wannacry attack still compromised over 230,000 computers worldwide. Follow a patch management program to guarantee that vulnerabilities are quickly and efficiently patched.

4. Audit Public-Facing Internet Services

Internet-facing services are programs and applications that can be accessed over the internet rather than through a secure internal network. Organizations create web-based applications for a variety of reasons. They are sometimes required to engage with clients, regulators, or partners. In some circumstances, they are required by personnel who work in the field or from home. Web-based applications, cloud services, SSH access points, VPN gateways, internet-facing firewalls, and any other remotely accessible services that are deliberately or inadvertently situated on an internet-facing server instead of behind a firewall or VPN are examples of internet-facing applications.

Simply put, you don't know what data is exposed or how intruders can get in unless you have a thorough and constantly updated inventory of internet-facing services. Ransomware attackers keep track of key flaws and employ various tactics to exploit web-based services. Your goal is to keep your network secure and your data out of the wrong hands. You can't adequately map out your attack surface unless you know what data your internet-facing programs have access to. You can't efficiently manage your risk or safeguard your organization unless you have that information.

These steps can help you map out the internet-facing applications in your organization:

  • Get to know yourself: Determine which assets are critical to the organization's success.
  • Get to understand your team: Using information gathered from other departments, determine where your organization's assets are.
  • Understand how to gather and retrieve discovery data: Organize the data you collected in the previous phases.
  • Identify what's in the cloud: Determine your responsibilities in relation to external data and services hosted by a third-party cloud service

5. Implement cybersecurity awareness training and run regular assessments

Ensure you and your team members receive cyber-security training regularly. An ounce of preventative training once in a while will save you from imminent harm. Make sure you're up to date on the latest data protection trends. You might also hire a cyber-security firm to help you strengthen your defenses. Keeping your team abreast of the newest cyber safety strategies can help ward off the stress that comes with cybersecurity unpredictability. Security awareness training will also help reduce risky activity and inculcate organization-wide best practices.

Couple this with a regular cybersecurity assessment, and you are good to go. A cyber-security assessment thoroughly examines your security measures and data management systems to find flaws. To set a safety threshold and seal any security flaws, you should undertake a monthly cyber risk assessment of your company.

Final Word

Organizations that follow these industry standards for ransomware protection will be well primed for the next round of ransomware attacks. These security measures aren't complicated, but in the wake of millions of successful attacks in the last year, they remind us that they are incredibly crucial. Reach out to Velocity IT today to streamline your ransomware protection.

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