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The ultimate preparation against Ransomware

Completely preventing ransomware is unfortunately not yet possible. The impact can be large and cause serious damage to your organization.

Cybercrime from ransomware attacks

In recent years, the threat from ransomware attacks has been increasing. The malware, or "malicious software," often enters through the email of one of the users in a network, such as an employee. Ransomware can be located in the email attachment or behind a link that the user can click on. Not only computer systems are being attacked by ransomware. Tablets and phones are also increasingly being used to install malware on and thus carry out ransomware attacks.

It starts with access

Preparation for ransomware attacks starts with access. As long as you don't click on links or open malicious attachments, you'll keep ransomware at bay. Also, creating strong, hard-to-guess passwords is an absolute must. In practice, cybercriminals can still too often guess passwords and then gain access to your network and files.

What is the purpose of ransomware?

In a ransomware attack, the goal is to encrypt your files or even the entire local network or Cloud network that you or your company depend on. The cybercriminals then blackmail you into decrypting your data in exchange for a ransom. They often ask for Bitcoins.

Consequences of a ransomeware attack

A ransomware attack can have enormous consequences for your organization. Especially if the cybercriminals obtain administrator rights, the disaster is incalculable. They can access everything, no bit or byte will be safe. Just imagine what your organization would be like without computer systems and the connected devices completely under control of the hacker!?

To pay or not to pay for ransomware?

If your organization falls victim to a ransomware attack, then never pay the demanded ransom. In fact, by making a payment you are funding this revenue model of cybercriminals and also the development to make these types of different ransomware attacks even more professional. Moreover, paying a ransom offers no guarantee that the systems will actually be released. A major and very painful pitfall is that these hackers have copied all data files multiple times. This allows them to blackmail organizations into posting this data publicly on the internet. Because it involves payments of large ransoms, ransomware is by far the largest form of cybercrime there is.

Tips to prevent ransomware

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet against ransomware yet. Cybercriminals are getting smarter all the time so we simply have to make sure that we don't fall for it! In addition, of course, make sure you have your company's data and network security in order. Below are a few tips to prevent ransomware:

Make sure you have a good backup strategy

For ransomware attacks, it is wise to be prepared. Take snapshots and offline backups and test and verify them regularly. In addition, it is also advisable to check your daily backups for suspicious files. Also, make sure you have stable and secure storage media. Consider secure USB storage media and tape drives.

Increase employee awareness of cyber risks

Training your employees and making them aware of digital dangers is indispensable and essential within every organization. It is no longer a question of whether you will be hacked, it is a question of when.

Unfortunately, most organizations only really wake up when it's too late, or when a business partner has been attacked and your company data is also compromised The latter should be an absolute wake-up call, because the hacker might be in your network too.

few tips for increasing the awareness for your employees when it comes to data security and the risks of cybercrime.

  • Be alert when clicking on links or downloading free software and keep a close eye on what you are about to download from which website. Look at the link of the source file. Is it reliable and does this link lead to a known website?
  • Be careful when opening attachments or images in emails from unknown people. Also keep an eye on the full e-mail domain and avoid opening unknown e-mails such as free e-mail addresses (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, enz.) to be avoided.
  • Do not trust pop-up windows to download software.
  • Don't trust emails to pay or renew bills or licenses online.
  • Limit the number of files you share with others. Many of these websites/applications offer little protection against malware.

Tips for securing your IT environment

Use a good anti-virus program

Using a good anti-virus application that provides both online and offline protection against malware can prevent major problems. In particular, the pre-boot protection of a system and online detection systems of an anti-virus program is essential.

Houd alle software up-to-date

Keeping software updated is very important. Most software is not developed on the basis of security by design. Therefore we advise you to regularly check the patch updates and release notes and update them when necessary. We regularly see zero-day attacks on VPN and remote management tools. These could often have been prevented by quicker action by updating the software.

One of the most recent ransomware examples: Log4Shell

A recent example is Log4Shell where major vulnerabilities were discovered in the logging software Log4j. Hackers are known to continue to infiltrate after a so-called Zero-Day attack and then install ransomware. To guard against zero-day vulnerabilities, we recommend using Zero Trust technology from TerraZone. With ZoneZero, you hide the network both inside and outside the organization. In addition, ZoneZero SDP uses patented reverse access technology. The software is popular because it can be applied to any network, whether it is in the cloud, hybrid or on-premises.

Ensure that user accounts cannot install software on the systems

The user accounts may have different security settings between them. With an administrator account you can install new software, but with a limited or standard account you usually can't. By using standard accounts as much as possible you prevent malicious software from being installed and viruses and malware from spreading within the network.

Filtering of web browser traffic

The advice is to route all outbound web traffic through a proxy. Consider filtering websites that users want to visit.

Restricting the use of unsecured external USB storage devices

Unsecured data carriers such as USB-sticks and external hard drives and cell phones can infect a system with malware. It is possible to filter (whitelist) USB ports with a so-called PortBlocker. This only allows secure storage media with their own anti-malware application.

How to reduce the risk of ransomware infection?

Read the Dutch NCSC ransomware Fact Sheet

Endpoint protection against malware with ESET

Endpoint security for managing and filtering secure storage media with DataLocker

Physical endpoint security with Smart Keeper

Network segementation with Zero Trust technology from ZeroTrust

Hart 4 Technology, IT-partner for business

Need help reducing the risk of ransomware attacks? Contact Hart 4 Technology. We are here for you.