Ransomware has been wreaking havoc around the globe. According to some sources, ransomware attacks have increased by 500 percent since COVID-19 turned into a pandemic. Some have drawn a parallel between the rise in ransomware attacks and the popularity of cryptocurrency. Others attribute the surge in ransomware cases to the popularity of work-from-home practices, also a result of the pandemic, which has potentially made it easier to carry out ransomware attacks.

It could be a combination of these and other factors that have given cybercriminals the impetus to launch ransomware attacks. With the recent wave of ransomware attacks targeting all manner of organizations, including critical ones such as healthcare, fuel pipelines and financial institutions, it has become more urgent than ever before for companies to implement measures to safeguard against ransomware.

In this article, the cybersecurity experts at PacketLabs outline steps you can take to avoid or fall prey to ransomware attacks as well as active measures companies can take to safeguard against ransomware.

Preventing a Ransomware Attack

Avoid malicious links:

The first step towards protecting your company from ransomware is to be vigilant. Always avoid clicking on links unless you know it is safe. Furthermore, do not click on a link, especially at your workplace, if you do not have to.

Most cybercriminals spread ransomware through download links disguised as genuine ones to trick a victim into clicking them, immediately triggering malware to download and then encrypt files.

It should be kept in mind that such links could show up anywhere, including your smartphone, websites and even your work email. Hence, constant vigilance is key to avoiding ransomware.

Maintain good security practices:

Every small measure to safeguard against ransomware helps. It could be something as simple as keeping your system locked when you are stepping away, closing a remote access software after it has been used, and maintaining a strong password that is a random set of characters, numbers, and symbols that cannot be guessed.

Providing your employees with security awareness and etiquette training can go a long way in ensuring they follow the basic preventive security measures mentioned above.

Active Measures to Safeguard Against Ransomware

While prevention is the first crucial step, it is only one-half of the process to reduce the risk of ransomware attacks. There are several proven measures you can take to safeguard your data against ransomware and other forms of cyberattacks.

Create backups and system images:

Because there is no fool-proof way to prevent a ransomware attack, arguably your most effective weapon against this malicious malware are backups. You can maintain a backup schedule to ensure you don’t forget to do it. Also, maintain additional backups and system images of important files and systems, respectively, as a contingency.

However, it is just as important that you maintain your backups and system images in offline drives and that they are only disconnected from the network immediately after a backup has been created. Most ransomware will delete or encrypt all backups and system images it comes across in a connected network.

Follow multi-factor authentication:

Many cyber attacks happen due to compromised passwords. A prime example is the infamous Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, which experts suspect happened due to a compromised password that the hackers accessed from a dark web leak.

Multi-factor authentication would have been an effective measure to safeguard against the ransomware attack that could have potentially compromised the United States national security. That is because this system typically requires a person to pass through two to three authentication methods.

The first would be the username and password, the second would be a temporary pin from a dedicated smartphone application, and the third could be a fingerprint verification. Multi-factor authentication ensures that even if the cybercriminals know the password, they would still be unable to access a system.

Assessing your security robustness through penetration testing:

Penetration testing is the process of gaining access to a system or application using the same methods that cybercriminals would typically employ. The only difference, in this case, is that ethical hackers hired by you carry out the “hack” attempt.

The benefit of penetration testing or pen testing is that it exposes any vulnerabilities in your system, an application used by you and your security arrangements. Penetration testing gives you the opportunity to fix the potential issue before a cybercriminal could exploit it.

Conclusion

While no security measure can safeguard against ransomware attacks 100%, companies must take these simple yet effective measures that are proven to reduce the risks of these malware and other types of cybersecurity attacks. To learn more about how pentesting can be an effective tool against ransomware and benefit your company, write to us at info@packetlabs.net or request a free quote.