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6 Best Practices to Prevent and Mitigate Ransomware Attacks

6 Best Practices to Prevent and Mitigate Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks have increased to such an extent that they have now become one of the leading threats to the financial stability, reputation, and data security of an organization. The threat has grown to such a level that FBI warnings have already been issued to the public. The problem is, attackers have become more tech-savvy with time, and no longer require a person to click a link for infecting their system. Legitimate sites are now seeded with malicious code, and unpatched software or obsolete software allows hackers to corrupt the systems of end users. According to a new report from anti-malware firm Enigma Software, ransomware incidents grew by 159 percent since March, accounting for the largest percentage of overall malware infections in April.

Similar to other types of malware, ransomware mostly infects systems via downloads, email attachments, and Internet browsing. It is critical for an organization to educate their employees through regular training so they know which malware pitfalls to avoid. But once you realize that your security is compromised and ransomware has infected your systems, take immediate action:

  • Before switching off your system, try to take a snapshot of the system memory. This provides a means to find the attack vector later on, along with any kind of cryptographic material. All of this can help with the decryption of data.
  • Turn off the system to stem the tide of the attack.
  • In order to trace the attack vector, you must recall any email that might have been the carrier of the attack.
  • Notify the proper authorities so they can launch an investigation.
  • Prevent your network from accessing any command-and-control servers being used by the ransomware.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks?

Employees Must be Educated 

It is important that employees are aware of ransomware and their role in preventing it. Employees should be trained not to open links or attachments in emails from senders they don’t know, and what to do if they believe they may have fallen victim to a ransomware attack, according to a report by FierceHealthIT.

Adopt Smart Patch Management

A centralized patch management system can help secure machines across an organization and address vulnerabilities as soon as a patch becomes available. “Organizations must move beyond simple compliance to proactively work to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited,” Ken Levine of Xconomy said. One of the most essential rules for shielding your system as well as detecting ransomware early is to ensure that all software present in your machine is fully updated and maintained frequently and consistently, respectively. You should especially focus on anti-malware and security software.

Manage Privileged Accounts

When assigning privileges to users, it is important that users are only assigned administrative access when necessary. Thycotic suggests that organizations apply the principle of “Least Privilege” to all systems and services. This practice holds a lot of weight since it can make all the difference between initiating ransomware attacks and mitigating the impact. It is always an astute idea to remove any local administrative rights. This effectively deters ransomware from affecting local systems, thereby stopping the spread of the attack. If you’re wondering why local admin rights matter so much, it’s because they serve as major components in the event of ransomware attacks.

Do not Enable Macros from Email Attachments

Macros are special codes that get replaced with information specific to each recipient, i.e. the {Contact_First_Name} macro will be replaced with each recipient’s first name.“If a user opens the attachment and enables macros, embedded code will execute the malware on the machine,” Thycotic said. “For enterprises or organizations, it may be best to block email messages with attachments from suspicious sources.” Always filter your emails properly. This reduces the possibility of a successful ransomware attack on your system considerably. The fewer employees get emails containing spam or harmful software, the less the chance of infection. Another significant step that you need to take is to block attachments. This helps lower the attack surface. Most of the time, ransomware gets delivered to you in the form of an executable attachment.

Use Application Whitelisting

Application whitelisting prevents unapproved programs from running. Thycotic calls this method one of the best security strategies in preventing malicious software.

Regular Data Backup

Data backup can help organizations protect valuable information. Regular backups can help limit the impact of data loss and expedite the recovery process. There is no solution more effective and foolproof than backing up your precious data regularly and verifying the entire system. A lot of the recent ransomware encrypts data files, shadow copies, and Windows system restore points. In effect, they block all methods of partially restoring your data following an attack. It is paramount that you store the backups on a different system – one that is updated regularly and is inaccessible from the network. This way, at least the entirety of your data is not lost.

These are few ways to prevent and mitigate Ransomware attacks. If you need expert’s help in managing security, reach out to RightCloud!
Watch this space for more such updates!

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