What is ransomware? Everyone’s asking about it like its some new big thing, but realistically ransomware has been around since the 80’s. Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that is designed to encrypt a victim’s files or entire computer system, rendering them inaccessible. The attacker then demands a ransom payment from the victim in exchange for a decryption key or tool that can unlock the encrypted files or restore access to the system (hence “Ransom”-ware). Obviously, due to the nature of this cyber-attack, the consequences on businesses both big and small can be quite severe.
How Ransomware works
Infection: Ransomware typically enters a computer or network through malicious email attachments, infected software downloads, or vulnerabilities in the operating system or software. Some strains of ransomware are also spread through malicious websites or by exploiting weaknesses in network security.
Encryption: Once successfully in the system, the ransomware will begin encrypting files using a strong encryption algorithm that makes it almost impossible to decrypt the files without a proper decryption key.
Ransom Note: A ransom note will be provided by the attacker on the victim’s screen, which provides instructions on the next steps you’ll need to take to make a payment and receive the encryption key. This payment will most likely be in a cryptocurrency to maintain the attacker’s anonymity. The amount of this payment can be whatever the attacker decides the value of the files is, this can be a couple of hundred pounds, to thousands.
Decryption key: Providing you pay the ransom and the attacker upholds their end of the deal, the encryption key is then provided, allowing you to decrypt your files.
Due to the nature of ransomware attacks, there is no guarantee that the attacker will uphold their end of the bargain, along with the legal concerns with paying a ransom it’s generally recommended against paying it, and instead focusing on preventing this attack in the first place.
How to protect your business
Protecting your business from ransomware requires a multifaceted approach that combines technology, cybersecurity practices, employee training, and disaster recovery planning.
Employee Training and Offboarding
- Educate your employees about the dangers of ransomware, phishing emails, and suspicious attachments.
- Conduct regular cybersecurity training sessions to teach employees how to recognize and report potential threats.
- Ensure that when employees leave your organization, their access to all systems and data is promptly revoked to prevent potential insider threats.
- Ensure that employees have access only to the resources and systems necessary for their roles.
- Implement robust email filtering and spam detection solutions to block malicious emails before they reach your employees’ inboxes.
Disaster Recovery Plan
- Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines steps to take in case of a ransomware attack.
- Here at Novo IT, we can help you put together a disaster recovery plan that suits your business and ensures that everyone knows what to do in the event of any cybersecurity incident.
Security and Backups
- Keep all operating systems and software up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.
- Regularly back up your data, and ensure that backups are stored offline or in a secure, isolated environment.
- Deploy firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), and advanced malware detection solutions to monitor and protect your network.
- Use reputable antivirus and antimalware software on all devices within your organization.
- Enable device encryption and remote wipe capabilities for mobile devices and laptops in case they are lost or stolen.
In the event of a ransomware attack, should you be unprepared, these files will be almost impossible to retrieve. Work with Novo IT today to ensure you have the correct level of defence against ransomware attacks. Alongside the correct measures in place to ensure your system is running regular backups, should a ransomware attack take place. Get in touch today to see how we can help your business create an effective disaster prevention and recovery plan.