A malware attack is a virus designed to deny a user access to files on their computers. Sometimes, malware attacks disguise themselves as email files or folders and once downloaded, they lock the user from the system.
Once the attacker barricades himself inside your system, two things might happen. First, they might ask for a ransom to provide you with a decryption key. Secondly, the hacker can barricade themselves to initiate further attacks on your system, either by compromising or stealing files.
So, protecting yourself and your organization against ransomware attacks is a critical first step in enhancing your cybersecurity status.
This post discusses how to protect yourself against ransomware attacks with these seven best practices.
1. Data Back-up
The goal of any ransomware attack is to deny access to your sensitive files, folders, and information. A ransomware attack demands ransom from victims to access their files or data.
However, you must remember that a ransomware attack is only effective if the user loses control or loses access to their protected information or data. So, a robust and secure data backup is an effective solution for mitigating the impact of a ransomware attack.
Cloud technology provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations to secure their information remotely, and access this information on demand whether it is encrypted by outside parties or just available for use remotely.
2. Cybersecurity Training and Awareness
Phishing emails are a popular way to distribute or launch ransomware attacks. Phishing emails trick a user, mostly an organizational employee, into clicking a malicious file or folder.
Therefore, frequent cybersecurity training is a surefire way to protect yourself and your organization against ransomware attacks.
This training must focus on sensitizing employees to the following actions:
- Not to click malicious emails, attachments, or folders.
- Never open unknown emails or folders.
- Avoid revealing personal or sensitive information to unknown parties.
- Never plug unknown USB or endpoint devices into computers.
- Using a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi or an unknown network.
Most importantly, sensitize employees on the best-in-class cybersecurity practices.
3. Regularly Update your Programs
Regularly updating your operating system and software programs is a critical first step in protecting yourself against ransomware attacks. Regular updates ensure that you enjoy and benefit from the latest security patches, making it harder for cyber-criminals to benefit from system vulnerabilities.
4. Use Known Download Sources
Leveraging known download sources is another step in protecting yourself against ransomware attacks. Downloading software programs or operating systems from unknown sources exposes your system to unauthorized access and ransomware.
For all your downloads, it’s advisable to use trusted and authorized sites with trust seals. In addition, ensure that the browser address bar uses ‘HTTPS’ instead of simply ‘HTTP’. A lock or shield sign on your address bar can indicate that the site is safe and secure.
It’s also advisable to exercise caution when downloading anything using your mobile or smartphone device. Using the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store is a fool-proof way to avoid suspicious downloads.
5. Secure User Authentication
Cybercriminals leverage the remote desktop protocol (RDP) to remotely access your desktop. Alternatively, the Remote Desktop Protocol can remotely access your system using stolen or borrowed login credentials.
PayPal’s latest cybersecurity attack involved credential stuffing. In credential-stuffing, bots matched credentials stolen from website leaks to access PayPal’s user accounts. Credential stuffing led to the compromise of at least 35,000 user accounts.
Once inside your system, the hacker can use ransomware attacks to encrypt sensitive files and prevent your access. However, luckily, you can close the potential attack vector with strong user authentication.
One way to do this is by instituting a strong password policy and relying on the two-step verification process. The 2FA or multi-factor verification ensures you have access to two endpoints to access a protected user account like an email service, financial platform, or work account.
6. Up-to-date Patches
Patches are programs that protect your system, network, and devices against unauthorized access. Updating your patches proves to be a secure way to protect yourself against unauthorized access.
One classic example of a ransomware attack is the WannaCry attack of 2017. Other than using the RDP or phishing emails to access a protected system, the WannaCry exploits a vulnerability and spreads itself by leveraging your Windows Server Message Block (WSMB).
So, keeping your system up-to-date by patching your system and applying security updates, especially those labeled as ‘critical’ is an important first step in protecting yourself against ransomware attacks. Regular security updates can also mitigate dangerous and equally serious ransomware attacks.
7. Anti-Ransomware Solutions
Sometimes, ransomware operators use sophisticated phishing techniques that may trick even the most diligent employees into clicking on malicious emails and files. Highly targeted and well-researched phishing emails can trick even trained workforces, leading to organizational-wide ransomware attacks.
It’s advisable to work with trusted cybersecurity providers. A classic example of a trusted cybersecurity provider is a managed IT service provider. A cybersecurity service provider offers the latest, well-researched cybersecurity solutions, protecting yourself and your organization against malicious attempts.
At Bastionpoint, we provide tested-and-proven cybersecurity solutions, keeping you ahead of potential attackers, operators, or hackers.
Contact Bastionpoint today for best-in-class cybersecurity solutions.
I provide CIO and IT Support Services alongside a mid-sized technical support team of engineers for business. Bastionpoint Technology is a managed service provider for businesses ranging from 1-500 users! We specialize in Legal, Medical, and Professional services, but support so much more. Retail, Finance, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Non-Profits, and you’ve certainly heard of our clients. We offer unlimited on-demand services, with an on-demand price point to meet every client’s needs. Just call on us – we put your business first!