Ransomware has mostly faded from the headlines since WannaCry and NotPetya wreaked havoc across the globe in 2017. The attacks sparked so much alarm that more people than ever are backing up their files, which effectively deadens a ransomware attack, but are your efforts working and in place today?
Too many of us have short memories and as the WannaCry sobs become a faded memory, cybersecurity experts warn against getting lazy about backing up your files. The first instance of a ransomware threat was detected 30 years ago--in 1989--when an AIDS conference was "attacked" by floppy disks. Since then it has been a relentless duel of one-upmanship between the bad guys and the cybersecurity experts.
The reality is that most ransomware attacks are made at random despite the mountain of reports that indicate cybercriminals target specific institutions and organizations. The bad guys will go after anyone with a computer… including you. In 2017 Amit Serper, a principal security researcher at Cyberreason, became a hero for creating the first "vaccine" to slam the door on the devastating NotPetya attack. However, even as his vaccine was universally viewed as a shaft of light in the dark history of ransomware, Serper was a warning of the vaccines limitations. "They're only useful," he said, "to contain a specific outbreak."
So what can you do? Back up off network. Then back up...and back up some more! Take a look at these three ways to clean up your network and prepare your company for a cyber attack.
1. Implement a comprehensive backup strategy. A multifaceted approach helps blunt the force of a ransomware attack. A company's information cannot be held hostage when it's stored securely off-network and ready for recovery. Tejaswini Herath, an associate professor of information services at Brock University, urges a "tiered" or "layered" backup strategy that includes redundancy. Use devices not connected to the network, keep a copy off-site and encrypt your back-ups. Recovery from an attack is only as good as the back-ups you store.
2. Choose cloud back-up options with threat-protection features. Many ransomware variants, Herath said, can infect any attached drives or network files that are accessible, including cloud-based. Not all cloud providers have the same features though. If you currently have data in a cloud, are looking for a new cloud provider or just aren’t sure what’s really included, inquire today. Ask questions about their security policy and their threat-protection features.
3. Consider the latest intrusion prevention products so you can be alerted of a breach and act quickly if one occurs. Ongoing 24/7/365 monitoring is a great way to stop an attack in it’s tracks and ensure a swift recovery should the need arise. According to Herath, too often enterprises continue to follow the "patch once or twice a year" philosophy. This practice, he said, can leave them at enormous risk considering the lightning speed of ransomware's release.
Don’t ignore the human element. Stay on top of current threats online and share your concerns with your staff. Everyone in your company is involved in keeping your company safe. There are a variety of next-generation products that are being developed to prevent recognizable malware, identify hidden malware activity, and destroy the intrusive files. However, none of these fancy tools can take the place of common sense.
Worried about network security? Stressed about back-ups? Unsure about your cloud solution? If this article sparked any concerns, give us a call today for a FREE Network Security Audit. We will evaluate every nook and cranny of your technology and present you a full picture of your current setup. In addition, we will throw in our recommendations to secure your network.