How to Protect Against a Ransomware Attack
Government institutions, critical infrastructure, and large corporations across the US are increasingly looking at methods for how to protect against ransomware attacks. Not only are ransomware attacks increasing in frequency, with a few major examples having been brought to the limelight in 2021, but their severity also seems to be putting ever more pressure on organizations to act appropriately in response.
What Is Ransomware?
As the name implies, ransomware is software that essentially holds an individual PC or an entire IT network ‘at ransom’ and renders it unusable until a ransom has been paid out, often in Bitcoin. The FBI defines it as “malicious software, or malware, that encrypts data on a computer making it unusable.”
As though it weren’t already alarming to know that a bad actor somewhere around the world has compromised your business IT systems and is holding it for ransom, there is also the risk that the cybercriminal will not hold up their end of the deal, even if paid. Therefore, the FBI does not encourage victims to pay out criminal actors. Instead, report ransomware incidents to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
How is Ransomware Spread?
There are many ways for cybercriminals to distribute ransomware to your organization’s IT assets. Ransomware may be distributed through email, fraudulent websites, or links sent to members of your organization, i.e., phishing.
Another more popular (in recent years) method uses exploits or backdoors from the cyber criminal’s computer to a computer within your organization. Unsecured port entry to IT networks through an exploit known as EternalBlue has often been used to spread ransomware.
Who Is Being Targeted?
It’s especially pertinent knowing how to protect against a ransomware attack if you are a likely victim, so who are the criminals typically going after? In the past few years, cybercriminals have tended to attack government institutions, public health care systems, large organizations, SMEs, critical infrastructure, and elsewhere.
In other words, every organization must have a plan in place for how to protect against a ransomware attack because there’s no telling who will be their next victim or when they’ll attack.
Some high-profile cases at home and abroad that caught media attention include the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), which led to thousands of appointments being canceled and a severe loss of trust in the IT capabilities of Britain’s public health care provider.
The more recent 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack led to fuel shortages in many states and, despite FBI recommendations to never pay ransomware attackers, the ransom of 75 Bitcoin (worth $4.4 million at the time) was paid to the alleged perpetrators known as DarkSide.
Prepare for Ransomware Attacks
Perhaps your organization already has a plan in place on how to stay safe from ransomware, or at least some malware protection best practices have been put in place by key IT personnel in recent years. If not, it’s urgent that you establish a plan of action so that, if ever it should happen, your organization can best contain the attack and respond in a timely and efficient manner, thus minimizing the severity and subsequent costs.
The first step is to always remain vigilant and ensure that your IT assets are well-encrypted so that the primary risk factors for ransomware attacks, namely unsecured network ports and phishing, are minimized.
How to Protect Against a Ransomware Attack
Reading and researching current best practices is always a good idea and agencies such as the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provide resources on how to prepare for and deal with ransomware attacks.
One key area they outline is to ensure that your organization has in place a comprehensive IT asset management approach. This includes putting into action many various IT asset disposition (ITAD) strategies that are already beneficial steps towards cybersecurity and can reduce the threat of ransomware attacks, including secure data destruction, hard drive disposal, and data center services.
ITAD and Cybersecurity Risk Management
Reliable ITAD providers across the US with a worldwide presence are therefore a must for global organizations in our current age, with rampant cybersecurity threats that seem to be growing in intensity and frequency as more and more employees are shifting to a remote work setting and remote IT cybersecurity vulnerabilities present themselves.
In addition to retaining a reputable ITAD provider for the above core services, offsite data destruction, and IT asset storage and redeployment services further increase the robustness of cybersecurity efforts by minimizing threats and keeping your organization safe and compliant with data security and data privacy regulations.
Contact Wisetek Today
Wisetek is a global ITAD expert in data protection and security. Our thorough understanding of best practices and effective cybersecurity principles work to keep your IT assets safe from ransomware attacks and data breaches which can not only be financially costly but also crippling an organization’s trust and reputation.