Ransomware attacks occur every day to businesses all around the world. Both SMEs and MNCs are affected, with ransoms reaching millions of US dollars depending on the scale of the attack. Particularly in the post-pandemic environment and with growing ransomware attack numbers, business leaders need to know how to prevent ransomware and protect their brands.
Recovery policies like Incident Response (IR) may be crucial, but prevention is always the most ideal form of defense against ransomware. The best way to avoid ransomware attacks is to plug vulnerabilities in your cyber security system before attackers can exploit them. Read on for Sangfor’s ransomware prevention and protection guide.
What is ransomware? A quick recap
Ransomware is malicious software designed to encrypt important files, systems, and data. The hacker can then use this as leverage to demand a ransom in order to unlock it.
Ransomware attacks can be particularly disastrous and spell the end for many businesses. The opportunity cost of business downtime can often be greater than the ransom itself. Yet, businesses are completely at the mercy of the attacker and whether they will return the encrypted information safely.
What are the top causes of ransomware attacks?
Ransomware attacks can occur several different ways. Here are three of the most common causes:
- Email phishing
- Negligent, uninformed, or inexperienced employees
- Weak passwords and poor access management
To learn more about what is ransomware and how does it work, read our blog here.
Ransomware prevention & protection tips
Here are 10 quick tips on how to protect against your business ransomware:
#1: Never pay the ransom
While it is true that paying the ransom can sometimes be cheaper than the opportunity cost of business downtime, we would never advise this. Firstly, there is zero guarantee the attacker will follow through with their promise. Secondly, paying the ransom makes the attack successful in the eyes of the attacker. This will encourage future attacks.
#2: Educate all your employees
A significant proportion of ransomware attacks are caused by your organization's biggest security weakness: your employees. Perhaps the easiest and most effective way of protecting from ransomware attacks is to educate your employees. Cybersecurity awareness training for both junior and senior staff can make all the difference. Consider classes on creating secure passwords, VPNs, identifying suspicious communications and attachments, confidentiality training, phishing attacks, and more.
#3: Backup data frequently
Backups are at the core of ransomware protection strategies. Far too many businesses are held hostage by ransomware attackers simply because they have not made a recent enough backup. It should be a top priority to keep regular and frequent backups either on the cloud or an external data center. This will guarantee all sensitive business and client data is safe, and that you can resume operations quickly and painlessly.
#4: Keep all software and systems up to date
Cyber criminals are constantly working to find weaknesses in software and systems used by businesses. They can use these weak spots as an easy way into the target’s system where they are able to enact the attack. Likewise, however, security specialists work to plug up these vulnerabilities and prevent attacks. They release regular updates not only to improve their product or service, but to improve security.
Keeping all your software and systems up to date is low-hanging fruit when it comes to securing your business. In general, this is considered good cybersecurity hygiene and should be common practice across all departments.
#5: Utilize network segmentation
Network segmentation is a technique used by IT specialists to prevent the spread of malware. If one segment of your network gets infected, it can easily be isolated to safeguard the others. Within each network segment, you can implement a range of cybersecurity solutions to bolster ransomware prevention.
#6: Enhance Endpoint Security through EDR Tools
Endpoint security is software designed to help protect each endpoint connected to your network. These endpoints can be laptops, servers, smartphones, printers, and much more. Nowadays, businesses have far more endpoints connected to their systems. Every one of these is a potential route for attackers to infect your network. For those with work from home arrangements, this is especially worrying.
EDR software has everything from web browser security, antivirus & anti-malware technology, data encryption, and more. This will help keep ransomware among other threats at bay. Utilizing software like this allows you to enjoy all the benefits of these endpoints while protecting against ransomware.
#7: Adopt an access control policy
Despite your best efforts, there may be cases where an employee is in a position to facilitate a ransomware attack. This could be a negligent employee, one that has fallen for a phishing attack, or even one even acting out of malice. In such a case, an access control policy can be a great additional line of defense. In cybersecurity, it is considered best practice to only provide access to those who need it. Businesses are recommended to operate on the idea of “least privilege”, whereby employees are given the bare minimum access required for their role.
#8: Integrate email security solutions
Ransomware attacks are notorious for being spread through email. Email security solutions are a relatively simple yet effective way of preventing ransomware. Secure email gateways and solutions that help scan, analyze, and flag potentially malicious emails/attachments are extremely beneficial.
#9: Run regular security tests
Security tests are an integral part of any security-conscious organization. They are perhaps the most effective way of finding weaknesses in your security architecture. Once found, they can quickly be patched before an attacker is able to exploit them. Common security testing techniques like sandboxing, developing new security policies, and more can help protect against ransomware.
#10: Anti-ransomware solutions
Anti-ransomware solutions like that offered by Sangfor act as a complete package for organizations that want to prevent ransomware. As an innovative strategy that blocks ransomware in every step of the Kill Chain, Sangfor Anti Ransomware has 4 stages:
- Step 1 is to detect and block the ransomware infection. This is done through a next-gen firewall as well as endpoint security to protect both network and devices.
- Step 2 involves detecting and blocking all C&C communication. Here, Sangfor Next-Generation Firewall NGAF will block all communication to outbound C&C servers.
- Step 3 prevents further exploitation. In this step, Sangfor Endpoint Secure helps identify the controlling file and eliminate it.
- Step 4 blocks propagation. Ransomware can rapidly spread throughout different systems within your organization. By isolating the malware, NGAF and Endpoint Secure prevent further infection before relaying learned information to strengthen security.
Sangfor Anti Ransomware Success Stories
- Harbour Center Port Terminal Inc, a private commercial port in Manila, was attacked by ransomware back in 2020. Sangfor Next-Generation Firewall and Endpoint Secure solutions mitigated the ransomware infection and intensifed ransomware detection and defense.
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) also took to using the Sangfor's Next-Generation Firewall to improve its IT infrastructure. The anti-ransomware features of the Next-Generation Firewall drastically improved the institute’s cybersecurity posture.
- Systems Technology Institute (STI) is one of the biggest and well-known college in the Philippines. The institute deployed Sangfor's Next-Generation Firewall, which provides comprehensive protection not only IPS, virus inspection, sandboxing but also proactive vulnerability scanning and advanced persistent threat protection.
Learn more with Sangfor
Have a question about how to prevent and protect against ransomware? Contact us today and we will get in touch shortly.