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How to prepare for a future ransomware attack

No matter how big or small your organization is, your systems might be susceptible to a ransomware attack. So what can you do if you lose access to your system and receive a ransom message on your screen to regain the access?

What happens during a ransomware attack

Ransomware can arise from malicious software or files. These can affect a computer and restrict the user’s access to the files on the computer. The cyber attackers who are the creators of the malware can ask for a ransom in exchange for restoring the system to its previous state.

During a ransomware attack, the malware file installs an application in the system. The application then scours through the entire system and restricts access to the files in the system. It can even try to attack connected systems on the network. Once the attack is done, the application then shows a prompt on the screen with the ransom demands.

Ransom demands include the amount to be paid, along with the deadline within which the transaction is to be made. Most cybercrime demands involve Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies that are difficult to trace.

How to protect your organization from a future ransomware attack

Ransomware attacks can cause a lot of damage and loss to your business. That’s why it is crucial to prepare your network for such threats. Here’s what you can implement at an organizational level.

  • Use security software products that block the known ransomware sites. These services have a list of known sites that block ransomware attacks. The lists are updated periodically.
  • Keep all the systems fully patched and up-to-date. This helps keep the systems safe from spam, malware, and other threats.
  • Only allow authorized applications to run. Configure the operating systems as well as third-party software to only allow authorized applications. This can prevent unsolicited apps from installing and corrupting the system.
  • Restrict the use of personal devices. Allot company devices to your employees so that remote access is also secure.
  • Have backup and recovery setups. If you ever get attacked, have proper systems in place to back up your data regularly.
  • Create a task force that is aware of what needs to be done if a ransomware attack occurs. Let the other employees know about the task force and who they need to contact if their systems are compromised.

Ransomware attack prevention tips for users/employees

While the above tips are at the organizational level, you also need to educate your employees on how to keep their work computers secure. The following are a few guidelines for your employees:

  • Use individual user accounts. Create an individual user account for each employee instead of general or admin accounts. User accounts should only have necessary privileges based on the roles of the user.
  • Avoid accessing personal applications and websites. Employees have to consciously restrict accessing their personal emails or chats from work computers.
  • Avoid opening or downloading suspicious files. Employees should be cautious of spam links, or emails from unknown sources. Encourage them to double-check the links and run anti-virus scans on unknown files before viewing them.

What to do in case of a ransomware attack

If you already have a task force that is equipped for this scenario, do the following as soon as an employee reports a ransomware attack:

  1. Lock the affected system from the server.
  2. Analyze connected systems on the network to see if more systems are compromised.
  3. Turn off all affected systems and/or networks.
  4. Create an estimate of how long it might take to get the systems up and running.
  5. Communicate to your staff and stakeholders about the losses incurred due to the attack.
  6. Analyze the situation and verify if the backups are available for restoration.
  7. Calculate restoration time based on the number of affected systems.
  8. Implement the data recovery process. If the process is successful, you have recovered from the ransomware attack.
  9. If everything fails, you might have to pay the ransom to recover your data. But be mindful that a lot of times, the attackers may not restore your systems even after paying the ransom.

Conclusion

As with other forms of cyberattacks, using excellent security software such as SonicWall Security Appliance Firewalls and implementing the right strategies to prevent security issues is a step in the right direction in combating ransomware. The software detects and blocks ransomware by scanning your data and protecting it from both remote access and local ransomware attacks, thus providing real-time protection.

Sources

Anjali Kaikini
Previously a software engineer, Anjali Kaikini is now a freelance content writer and editor.

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