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Dallas Ransomware Experts: Can Ransomware Be Stopped?

You get to work, log on to your computer as you do every day, only to find that your screen is locked and the device cannot boot up. Instead, a message demanding money or bitcoin appears. You've fallen victim to a ransomware attack. It's a moment that every computer user dreads.

Ransomware is a form of malicious code that infects and locks down computers, networks, and mobile devices. The cybercriminals behind these attacks will then force their victims to pay a ransom in order to get a decryption key and regain access to critical files. It's essentially malware for data kidnapping. If the victims fail to pay the ransom, the attackers will delete their files permanently.

Can ransomware be stopped? Well, there's no sure-fire way to stop ransomware attacks against your business. However, there are several cyber defense strategies that companies can employ to limit both the likelihood and the impact of a ransomware attack. Read on to learn why ransomware is so difficult to stop and what you can do to decrease the risk of a ransomware attack in your business.

Types of Ransomware

Before we get into how you can stop ransomware attacks, let's take a look at the different types of ransomware to help you understand this prevalent threat a little better. There are two specific types of ransomware, namely crypto-ransomware and locker ransomware. Crypto ransomware encrypts critical files on a computer so you can't access them.

Once your data has been encrypted, the attackers will demand payment — usually in Bitcoin — to send you the decryption key. Locker ransomware, on the other hand, targets the device itself, not the data. It locks you out of your computer and prevents you from using it. Cybercriminals will then demand that you pay to regain access to your computer or mobile device.

Backups Are No Longer Effective In Ransomware Mitigation

In the past, companies have used offline backups as a second line of defense to mitigate ransomware attacks. The only thing ransomware does is delete your files permanently if you don't pay the ransom. Therefore, having an offline backup is an effective way for businesses to shield themselves from damage in a ransomware attack.

This means that if you have a copy of your data stashed somewhere safe, you don't have to give in to the attacker's demands. You can quickly restore from backup, right? Well, not anymore. Ransomware is constantly evolving, and a technique known as double extortion is one of the most recent adaptations. Through double extortion ransomware, attackers can force their victim's hand into paying the ransom.

What Is Double Extortion Ransomware?

A common theme in the recent wave of ransomware attacks is double extortion. Ransomware authors realized that with traditional ransomware, companies with a proper backup strategy could easily restore their network without giving in to their demands. Attackers had to adapt their techniques, and that's where double extortion ransomware comes in.

Rather than just encrypting the files, the ransomware exfiltrates the data first and threatens to publish the stolen data in an effort to force companies to pay up. In a double extortion ransomware attack, the attackers can still leak your data online or sell it to the highest bidder on dark web forums if you refuse to pay the ransom, effectively rendering backups useless against ransomware.

Even if an organization can restore its network without giving in to the ransom demands, the threat of sensitive company data being exposed pushes ransomware victims into paying the ransom. However, there's still no guarantee that the attackers will delete the stolen data. They could hold on to it for further exploitation down the line or sell it on the dark web.

How to Prevent Ransomware

Ransomware has been one of the favorite campaigns for cybercriminals over the past year. As stated earlier in the article, there's no silver bullet when it comes to stopping ransomware. The most effective way to stop ransomware is to prevent it from entering your system. There are a few important steps you can take to stop ransomware attacks before they can infect your systems and cause harm.

Decrease the Attack Surface 

Attack surface refers to the sum of distinct attack vectors in your software environment that cybercriminals can exploit to steal data or infect your system with malware. The number of applications and services organizations rely on to operate is constantly increasing.

As a result, the attack surface has continued to widen, leading to more attacks. Only enable applications with a valid business purpose, block all dangerous and potentially dangerous file types, and block unknown traffic to reduce the attack surface. Reducing the attack surface can help you tighten your protocols to mitigate the threat of ransomware.

Stop Known Threats

After reducing the attack surface, the next step is to block all known threats. This step entails stopping known exploits and ransomware threats from infiltrating your network. Stopping these threats raises the cost of executing an attack significantly, which, in turn, lowers the likelihood of an attack. Effectively blocking known threats forces the attackers to create new ransomware variants and launch new exploits against lesser-known weaknesses.

Identify and Stop Unknown Threats

Ransomware authors are constantly trying to find new ways to infect your network and squeeze a buck out of you. As attackers continue to develop new ransomware variants and deploy new exploits, it's imperative that businesses work to identify and stop unknown threats. You can look for trends of suspicious behavior by analyzing unknown threats in files and URLs and block any potentially malicious application.

Ransomware has become increasingly ubiquitous and highly effective as a form of cybercrime. Organizations are coming to terms with the growing threat of ransomware and taking measures to protect themselves. Consequently, ransomware authors have responded by adapting their attacks to force their victim's hands into giving in to their ransom demands.

Velocity IT: Dallas Ransomware Experts

There's no foolproof way to stop ransomware attacks. However, you can significantly reduce the likelihood and impact of a ransomware attack by taking measures to reduce the attack surface and prevent known and unknown threats from entering your network. Contact Velocity IT for more information on the importance of ransomware prevention and how to protect your business.

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