November 13, 2020

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks: What You Need to Know

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks: What You Need to Know

How to prevent ransomware attacks

Is your business protected from ransomware? Ransomware is now one of the biggest online threats to businesses. There are now over 4000 ransomware attacks in the US every day. But if you've never experienced a ransomware attack, you might not know what to expect, or how to stop it.

Don't worry, we're here to help! Read on for our guide on how to prevent ransomware attacks and protect your business.

Train Yourself and Your Employees

In most cases, ransomware attacks can trace back to an employee error. People and businesses often fall victim because they don't understand the threat or how to avoid it. Ransomware relies on the victim being inattentive/clueless. Or relying on tech and anti-ransomware software to protect them. But nothing will protect you better than being vigilant.

Train your employees to spot the signs of a ransomware attack. Bring in training to keep you and all your staff updated on the latest online attack methods.

For remote workers, make sure they know not to use any unsecured, public Wi-Fi connections. It's an easy target for hackers to break in and gain access to company information. Also make sure that employees know how to report anything suspicious they receive, and who to report it to. It's the key to staying on top of an attack. Waiting until it's happening could be too late.

Apply Updates and Patches Right Away

Malware often uses security gaps and bugs within software or operating systems. To protect your business, you must make sure all devices have the latest updates and patches. Don't delay installing them.

If you stay with outdated versions, you're painting a target on your back. An example was the ransomware worm, WannaCry. It made use of a breach in an old Windows version, and any computer without an update was vulnerable. It spread across the Internet, infecting any computer without the patch. And the worst part was it didn't need any interaction with the users.

If the companies had updated their Windows version, it wouldn't have happened. There would have been no spread, and in the end, it was an expensive lesson to learn. For personal users and for businesses.

Use Viewable File Extensions

A file extension is the 3 or 4 letter code after the dot in a file name. It indicates what type the file is. If you're using Windows, it will let you show the file extension on a file.

For example, .pdf indicates it's a PDF file. A Text document would be .txt and Microsoft Word would be .docx. By displaying the extensions, you can see if the file is executable or not.

You should be looking for .exe, .scr, or VBS files. This lowers the chance of opening a suspicious file that triggers the ransomware. So make sure all your company devices (and staff personal devices) make use of this feature.

Set Up EndPoint and Email Protections

As a golden rule, we know that people are going to click a link in general if given one. So, in event of this, put protections in place.

Scan all incoming emails for the known types of malware. Make sure your firewalls and endpoint protections have the current updates installed.

Let users know when an email comes in off the known network. And for when this happens, make sure you give staff a VPN to use if they need to send emails outside of the network.

Back-Up Your Data

Always make backups of your data. Where possible, backups should be offsite, and on the cloud. It's important to do this as it keeps your data safe and away from the easy reach of hackers.

It'll also make it easy to reset your devices and systems completely, and restore data onto them fast. If you don't back up your data, and you need to do a complete factory reset, you could lose it all. And that's damage you can't come back from.

Make sure you have several backups. And store them in different places, in case one falls victim to the ransomware too. Cloud backup is a great solultion as it adds an extra wall of protection. It's convient, automatic and safe from ransomeware.

Prepare Against Known Threats

You must focus on preventing known malware, command-and-control traffic, and exploits. Once you stop those, the cost of an attack goes up for the attackers.

It'll reduce the chances of an attack because the attackers would need to create new malware. They need to find new exploits, make new variants.

You should also block access to known URLs used for phishing. This helps prevent employees from downloading malware by accident. Or getting scammed of their credentials/company information.

Once you've removed/blocked all known threats, scan for all the known malware on SaaS apps. Attackers use these more and more to deliver their threats.

Block any malware and exploits that your scan identifies. Do the same for your endpoint as well. If you remove all the known threats, you can focus on looking out for the latest wave.

Use User Authentication and Strong Spam Filters

It's not enough only to be able to scan archived and compressed files. You need to use spam filters strong enough to catch phishing emails before they make it to employees.

You can also make use of authentication technologies. These prevent malicious users from slipping through the net using email spoofing.

It's important to speak with your IT team, or your external IT support to see what technology is available. They'll be in the best position to put together an IT package to suit your security needs.


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