Ransomware attacks are one of the biggest cyber threats for organizations globally, costing billions of euros yearly. But it's not only the economic loss itself that is a threat but also impacting crucial functions and services, ultimately risking life and health. All organizations are possible targets for ransomware attacks.
Ransomware is a type of malware that uses encryption to hold the victim's information at ransom. Data is encrypted so that the victim cannot access files, databases, or applications. The victim must pay a ransom fee to get back access to their data; otherwise, it's gone forever.
Ransomware often spreads across a network, targeting database and file servers to weaken an entire organization rapidly. Many victims are likely to suffer from repeated attacks, especially if the system is not cleared.
The worst-case scenario would be that ransomware spreads throughout your organization's network, taking large amounts of documents hostage, causing extensive damage to your organization.
Almost all ransomware attacks start with a legitimate-looking email, seemingly from a known sender or trusted brand.
The email will make the user download and run a virus. The document is either attached in the email or downloaded through a website linked to an email.
The virus will infect the computer and then try to find ways to spread further into your organization's network. The virus will try to find vulnerabilities within the network to spread into all systems possible, causing significant damage.
The ransomware will either extract sensitive information and request a ransom for not publishing the information or remove it completely. The ransomware could also encrypt all local documents in the systems asking for a ransom, usually in bitcoin, to unlock them.
Strong protection against ransomware attacks consists of several steps.
Vulnerable software and operating systems are the targets of most attacks. Ensuring that your operating system and software are patched with the latest updates significantly reduces the number of exploitable entry points. Implementing a vulnerability management framework will help you find vulnerabilities in computers and systems proactively.
With a strong human defense, your organization will build a human firewall, significantly decreasing the risks of being exposed to ransomware and data leakage incidents.
Make sure to take continuous data backups and have a recovery plan for all critical information. Regularly test the recovery process to make sure the backup works as intended. Keep backups separate and offline to make sure they can't be infected or sabotaged.
Restrict users' ability to install and run unwanted software. It's recommended to give users the least possible privileges. Restricting privileges may prevent ransomware from running or at least limit its capability to spread throughout the network.
Maintain an up-to-date anti-virus software, and ensure the software verifies all software downloaded from the internet before executing.
BUILD YOUR HUMAN FIREWALL
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