In 2020 the global cybersecurity market reached a value of $183.34 billion. Cyber-security is a growing field and attackers continue to find ways to bypass security measures.
Nearly everyone has to deal with sensitive data via their computer, whether it is personal or business-related. Protecting data is vital. To avoid being hacked, it is crucial to have the right protection.
Keep reading for a description of ransomware and 10 tips to protect yourself against it.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware allows attackers to take computers and files hostage. This is one of many ways attackers can do it.
Once they have gained access to your files, the attacker will encrypt them and ask for payment to release them to you. This will typically be a form of cryptocurrency. Ransomware has grown in popularity due to its potential for being a very lucrative attack.
You can avoid this by taking steps to reduce the chance of your system being exposed to ransomware. Ransomware protection is recommended as a second-line defense in the event that it manages to get onto your network or device.
Ransomware Protection is More Important Than Ever
Ransomware has been on the rise over the years due to increased computer use in every aspect of our lives.
The threat of attacks in 2021 has increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many companies are now implementing new strategies and systems in order to allow employees to work from remote locations due to the huge rise in people who work from home.
This opens up more opportunities for hackers and increases the risk of being a victim of ransomware attacks. Employers and employees could be exposed to new vulnerabilities due to this new work style.
1. Make sure to keep regular backups
It is a good practice to have files backed up. Important files can be corrupted or deleted by system errors and accidental deletions.
Full-image backups make a complete copy either of your entire system disk or of a specific partition. This makes it easy to recover your files even if you lose access.
You should back up your files on cloud storage if possible so you can access them from any location. However, ransomware protection is a must for cloud backups. You can ask your vendor for information.
2. Educate Employees
Phishing attacks are one of the most popular methods for spreading malware. In an attempt to infect computers, attackers will send emails with malicious attachments, malware, or unsafe links.
Employees will recognize these emails and know how to deal with them if they are properly trained. The best way to prevent ransomware infection is to make sure employees don’t click on attachments or follow links in emails sent by unknown senders.
This training should be done regularly. Hackers are known to change their methods and adapt to new situations. Therefore, it is important to be prepared to prevent falling for phishing emails.
3. Principal of Least Privilege
This means that employees should only have the access they require. This could be files, networks, features, or programs.
Although employees generally have full access to the software, it is not a bad idea. However, errors and other problems can still occur. Software that isn’t properly used by an employee can cause a host of problems.
Human error will still always occur. Employees will make fewer mistakes if they only have the information they need to perform their job. Security will also be improved.
4. Keep Up to Date
This applies to both operating systems and software. Software and operating system updates are released constantly by developers. To maintain maximum security, these should be installed as soon as possible.
Developers will immediately patch any exploits in their software if they find them. Software should be updated as soon as possible to ensure the greatest protection.
It is important that staff are aware of the importance of installing updates whenever they become available. You should enable automatic updates whenever possible to make the process more efficient.
5. Do Not Enable Macros in Microsoft Office Attachments
Sometimes, a word document sent via email will contain the option to enable macros. If this happens, please say no.
If ransomware is placed in a file by a hacker and macros are allowed to run, the hackers will be able to install it and encrypt your files.
Newer Office versions include an option that blocks macros when Office files are downloaded from the internet. This option should be enabled on all computers in order to avoid the risk.
6. Remote Desktop Aces are disabled
Remote desktop access protocol (RDP), allows users to access files and systems from another location. Although it can be extremely useful, this is the most popular initial ransomware attack vector used by attackers.
Cortex Xpanse reports that RDP accounted in 2021 for 30% of all exposures. This is twice as common as the second.
Hackers may gain access to this RDP if it is accidentally left on a forgotten network, cloud network, or device directly connected to the internet.
Avoid using an RDP if it is not necessary. These measures will help you to reduce any risk if an RDP is required:
- Only use RDP behind a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
- Limit the number of login attempts to reduce the chance of brute force attacks
- Sessions automatically disconnected after a certain time limit
- Only allow access to IP addresses that are restricted
- Unintended exposures can be detected using an Attack Surface Monitoring Solution
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is required for all user accounts
7. Only trust trusted download sources
Downloads from trusted/known sources are best to reduce the chance of accidentally downloading ransomware. Trust seals can help identify these websites.
The web address of your browser should start with “HTTPS” and not “HTTP”, to indicate that the page is secure. Secure pages are also indicated by a shield or lock symbol.
Mobile devices should also be treated with the same care. Trustworthy sources like Google Play and Apple App Store are to be trusted, but it is important to take care of other sources.
8. Monitoring and Response
It is important to monitor your systems for unauthorized access regularly. It is important to respond quickly to intruders to minimize the chance of them causing harm.
EDR (endpoint detection & response) is a system that monitors and collects endpoint data in real-time. An automated response system based on rules is used to analyze threat patterns and provide an automated response.
These threats are then contained or removed, and security personnel is notified. Forensics and analysis tools are also provided, which allow for the detection of other suspicious activities.
9. Anti-malware software
There are many types of software that can be used to protect against hackers.
Malicious emails can be prevented by virus scanners and content filters. Internet security solutions prevent potential threats from downloading or streaming sites.
The best defense is to have the right security software installed and kept up-to-date. This is true for ransomware and other cyber security threats.
10. Don’t Pay Ransoms
Even with all the precautions taken, It is possible to fall prey to a malicious attack.
It is strongly recommended that you don’t pay ransomware if someone tries to gain control of your computer or files. You may not have backup and files that were compromised are essential. In this case, you might have no other choice.
However, if you pay, you will be regarded as a paying target by the attacker. An attacker might then try to infect your system again with ransomware. Because they believe that once you’ve paid, you’ll pay again.