Ransomware attacks have evolved significantly over the last three decades. They’ve become more dangerous and sophisticated. In the modern-day tech world, cybercriminals use advanced techniques and readily available malware to target vulnerable businesses and organizations for financial gain.
In such an environment, having a solid ransomware defense strategy must be a priority for any company that is keen to protect your computer systems, critical infrastructure, and data. The absence of defense strategies can put your company at risk of losing important information, including confidential data. This loss can cause irreversible damage to your business and cripple its operations.
Ransomware is a complex malware that infects computers and holds personal or sensitive data until a ransom is paid. Cybercriminals use binary encryption keys to prevent data owners from accessing the data to extort money from them. For businesses, organizations, and institutions that rely on data and information to function, ransomware attacks can be dangerous.
Unpaid ransoms can lead to exposure to confidential information or permanent data loss. Ransomware attacks are often launched through phishing emails, corrupted websites, vulnerable networks and systems, remote desktop protocols, and downloading infected attachments or file extensions.
Adopting the best ransomware defense strategies and practices can protect your systems and data from attacks and loss. Below are 6 defense strategies that you should consider.
Adopt Multi-Factor Authentications
One of the best ransomware defense strategies is implementing multi-factor authentications (MFAs) on all systems and data access points. MFAs can prevent cybercriminals from using stolen credentials to access your system.
Additionally, implement strong password policies where your staff change their passwords regularly and create complex passwords. Combined, these strategies can effectively thwart unauthorized access to your systems and data.
Conduct Regular Data Backups
Regular data backups on cloud servers or external hard disks are an effective practice when it comes to keeping your data safe. Backups allow you to restore your data after a ransomware attack after cleaning your computer up. In an ideal situation, companies should back up critical data once per day. Some organizations apply the 3-2-1 rule.
This rule means storing three copies of data separately in two storage types and maintaining one copy offline. Another step worth considering in data backups is having one more copy of the data stored in an immutable cloud server.
Configure Firewalls and Install Antivirus Software
Another defense strategy for shielding your systems and data from ransomware is installing
anti-malware and antivirus software in your computers. This software can scan, detect cyber threats, and stop them before they can harm your systems. But antivirus alone is not sufficient to guard your systems against ransomware. You need to configure firewalls to keep external ransomware attacks at bay. Firewalls can protect your computers against hardware and software-based attacks. They do this effectively due to their ability to filter and block any suspicious data packets from getting into your system.
Combining firewalls and antivirus software offers you the much-needed protection. Antivirus shields your system internally, detecting ransomware attacks that are already in the system. Firewalls, on the other hand, prevent external ransomware attacks from entering your system.
Maintain Updated Software and Systems
Keeping your systems, software, and operating system updated to the latest version can go a long way in protecting your computers and data against ransomware attacks. Viruses, ransomware, and malware are always evolving.
Cybercriminals release new variants that are capable of bypassing old security features. Additionally, most attacks are often directed at big companies that use operating systems or software that haven’t been updated for some time. To prevent this, ensure that your software and systems are patched and updated.
Email phishing is one of the common ways cybercriminals use to infect computers with ransomware. Your computer systems can be infected with viruses if you download suspect email attachments or click infected website links. Cybercriminals also use social engineering to infect computers with ransomware.
They do this by tricking users into sharing sensitive information like bank details, passwords, etc. In addition to installing antivirus software, you can protect your systems and data by updating email client apps, not opening emails, attachments, or links from unknown addresses, adopting Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) encryption, and Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) protocols.
Segment Computer Networks
Ransomware spreads fast across computer networks. In case of an attack, you can limit the spread by segmenting your network. Network segmentation is the division of a computer network into several smaller networks.
This isolates the network and keeps the ransomware from spreading to other computer systems. Set up firewalls, unique access, and other requisite security controls for each network you create to ensure that ransomware does not infect target data.
Implemented correctly, network segmentation allows your tech team the time they need to identify, isolate, and eliminate ransomware threats that may hit your system.
Limit Data Access Permissions
You can shield your systems and data from ransomware attacks by limiting user access privileges. This means granting users access to data they need only. By limiting data access, you keep ransomware infections from spreading across systems in your company.
Most businesses apply the least privilege access limits to essential data. This means that the identity of any external or internal users has to be verified at every level to prevent the breach.
Ransomware attacks can lead to loss of critical data, crippling and damaging business or organizational operations. But you don’t have to experience this to act.
You can prevent these attacks from affecting your company by building a solid cybersecurity foundation. Businesses that implement the seven ransomware defense strategies protect their systems and data effectively and are more prepared to deal with attacks when they occur.
These strategies may appear simple. But in the face of the high number of successful ransomware attacks that happen each year, it’s critically important that you implement them.