Beyond vulnerability scanning: Enhancing attack surface management for more proactive security

January 10, 2023

How To Prevent Ransomware Attacks

By: Randori Blog

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Ransomware is one of the most destructive types of malware viruses, and it’s never been more important to implement cybersecurity best practices to prevent cybersecurity attacks.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware that is used by cyber attack terrorists. The goal of ransomware is to breach an organization’s security system and access the sensitive data and systems of the company. The ransomware that encrypts the data, software, systems, or files and offers a ransom to the owner of the effective files. Ransomware is also designed to spread throughout a system rapidly, sometimes within seconds an entire organization’s digital assets can be frozen and impossible to access.

Once the demanded ransom is paid, the cyber-terrorist groups then release the documents, in theory. However, it’s very difficult to believe that the ransomed files haven’t been further infected in spyware that would mine additional sensitive and valuable data. In many cases, the corrupted files are considered a lost asset, even if they are recovered by paying the ransom.

How To Prevent Ransomware Attacks: Industry Best Practices

The best way to keep an organization safe from ransomware is a proactive and aggressive cybersecurity posture that prevents breaches from happening in the first place. It’s also extremely important to have a strong mitigation plan in order to contain the breach as soon as it occurs. The faster ransomware-infected files are contained and quarantined from the system, the less overall loss the organization will experience.  

Industry best practices are the best way to implement a strong cybersecurity posture. We’ll discuss some of these best practices in detail, but it’s important to be constantly updating and adapting your organization’s cybersecurity systems as new data and attacks occur. 

  • Email Security

Infected emails are arguably the most common way ransomware is introduced into a system. Ransomware can be introduced via deception and trojanware methods. Trojanware can introduce viruses to secure systems by getting endpoint users, like employees, to click a link. The disguised link downloads the virus when clicked. Trojanware emails are often disguised like communications from government agencies, major retail companies or shipping companies. Trojanware often carries ransomware, but can also carry other types of viruses. 

The best way to prevent ransomware attacks being delivered by email is through employee education, security gateways, and by implementing a practice called sandboxing. Email security gatekeeping is an industry standard that layers protections over email programs like windows’ outlook. It helps filter suspicious emails that come from known threat actors or any email contains a suspicious link. Sandboxing adds another layer of protection by testing any suspicious links or attachments that got through the security filter. The sandbox then contains any nefarious emails and flags them to be filtered out in the future. It’s a contained way to test links and discover viruses without them having access to the rest of the system. 

Another important thing to consider when it comes to email safety is the human aspect. Employees and other endpoint users should be thoroughly trained on how to spot suspicious emails that somehow, however, get through security filters and sandbox testing and end up in their inbox. Very often, well-trained employees with good IT’s hygiene are the best way to prevent ransomware attacks. 

  • Endpoint Device Security

Traditional firewall security protections are typically not enough to fully protect end point devices due to the abundance and variety of devices connected to digital systems. This is why Endpoint Discovery and Response, or EDR, is the best practice to keep all end point devices safe and prevent ransomware attacks via devices like cell phones, desktops, or laptops. EDR protects a secured system by checkpointing a device before it signs in to a wireless network or connects with the secured system. Endpoint Discovery and Response vets users’ devices thoroughly and then tags them as safe or not. 

  • Web Application Firewall Security

Web application firewall security is the most recognizable cybersecurity tool to prevent ransomware attacks. A web application firewall, or WAF, is a specific firewall created to filter data transfers and communications between web applications and outside networks. Web applications that communicate data back and forth between the application and the application’s data hub create potential attack vectors that could be used to access a secure system. An aggressive and well-developed web application firewall is an industry-standard to prevent ransomware attacks via web applications. Without one, devices that use web applications are vulnerable to attack. 

  • “Zero Trust” Security Mindset

A “Zero Trust” security mindset is more of a philosophy for your security posture to center on than a piece of cybersecurity technology. “Zero Trust” security means that your security system assumes that everything that communicates or interacts with it is a potential threat. Every interaction, therefore, needs to be filtered and password protected. Every data transfer, email, and web application has to be thoroughly vetted. This mindset is the best way to prevent ransomware attacks across the board. 

  • Mitigation Tactics

Firewalls, sandboxing, and “zero trust” mindsets are great ways to prevent ransomware attacks. Still, an organization also needs to create a strong breach plan if a ransomware virus breaches your security safeguards. 

While it’s important to have the best cybersecurity possible due to the nature of ransomware viruses, it’s essential to have backups of all digital assets. Backups, separated from the central system and cloud,  will ensure that your organization doesn’t have to pay millions in ransoms and then ultimately trash affected files that can no longer be trusted. The cybersecurity industry’s best practice is to have multiple backups of digital assets entirely apart from the organization’s system. 

Prevent Ransomware: It’s A Real Threat

Ransomware is a real threat to organizations across the globe, as we have seen. While the more prominent organizations are more likely to be targeted by Ransomware, even individuals have been known to be the victims of ransomware and should be protected. 

Are you nervous that your organization isn’t following cybersecurity best practices to prevent ransomware attacks? Click HERE to see how Randori can help secure your network and digital assets. 

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