If you’ve been reading up on cybersecurity, you have certainly heard the terms “ransomware” and “disaster recovery” before. One of these is a specific type of cyber attack while the other is a general concept that is used to deal with digital disasters. Although they are two different things, they are related in a number of ways. Disaster recovery and ransomware have a complex and interdependent relationship, and that is what we will be exploring today.
What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a specific type of malware that uses encryption as a weapon against its victims. Encryption works by scrambling computer data, making it impossible to read the contents. In order to decrypt data, your device must have the matching encryption key, which is basically a cipher that tells the computer how to decrypt and reconstruct all that scrambled data. That encryption/decryption key is contained within the password, and that is why encryption works so well. As long as you use strong encryption methods and keep your password safe, no one can access that data.
Unfortunately, that is a double-edged sword. Ransomware programs use encryption to lock you out of your device and hold your data hostage. Since only they will have the password, only they will have the decryption key. They can then demand a ransom for this password, and that’s usually how they profit from these attacks.
What Is Disaster Recovery?
Any process that is aimed at helping you to recover from a digital disaster would fall under the umbrella of “disaster recovery.” This can include things like data backup and restoration, ransomware data recovery services, forensic investigation to determine the cause and source of the attack, and anything like that. In fact, this might be one of the most self-explanatory terms of all time.
How Do Ransomware And Disaster Recovery Intersect?
The answer to this question is quite obvious. A ransomware attack definitely falls under the category of “digital disasters.” And so, if you have been the victim of such an attack, disaster recovery will be necessary. The methods and specifics are variable, but you definitely need to have those things worked out before the attack happens. Trying to do it on the fly will be very difficult and maybe even impossible.
That brings us to another important point: Disaster recovery is all about preparedness. Not all attacks are predictable but the danger itself is quite predictable. You know that it’s there and that it probably always will be there. Therefore, it is your own fault if you fail to take any precautions against such a common type of attack.
Disaster Recovery In Cases Of Ransomware
Sometimes, recovering from a ransomware attack can be relatively easy. You should be making regular system backups (in the form of system images) and storing these in a secure and offline location. It is possible to set up a computer system so that it will automatically back up your data at certain intervals. Weekly data backups might be good enough for you, but daily backups are much better. That way, you will never lose more than 24 hours’ worth of data.
However, the danger doesn’t end there. Those hackers probably stole at least some of your sensitive data in the process of carrying out the ransomware attack. Depending on what type of data it is, they might be able to sell it on the dark web for a substantial profit. Once word gets out about that, it can cause serious damage to your company’s reputation. In fact, some malware variants are actually designed to focus on stealing valuable information for later sale.
Some of you might be wondering: Why not just pay the ransom and move on? There are several reasons to avoid that course of action. First of all, they probably won’t restore your access/data. In many, many cases, these criminals just take the money and run. Even worse, if word gets around that you are an easy target who is willing to pay, other hackers may target you as well. Finally, there is just the general fact that you shouldn’t reward criminals for their crimes.
No matter what happens, there will be a need for a post-analysis of the attack. This is where you try to figure out what happened, how it happened, and who was responsible. Not only is this useful for the prevention of future attacks, but it also gives you the possibility of having the perpetrators arrested.
Preventive Measures Are Much Better
It is best to stop a ransomware attack before it encrypts your data, and that can often be accomplished with simple precautions. Network monitoring is one of the best ways to prevent a ransomware attack, as it can often detect these attacks well before they are completed. It can take a significant amount of time to encrypt an entire hard drive or an entire network, and that means plenty of time for someone to notice that something is wrong.
We have already talked about the importance of data backup, and the importance of keeping your backups in a secure location. However, employee education can often prevent these backups from being necessary. Most ransomware attacks begin with some sort of “social engineering” attack. Such attacks involve tricking the intended victim into revealing sensitive information like login credentials, account numbers, etc. Such tricks are usually called “phishing” and they work by preying on the uninformed. That’s why employee education on the subject of phishing is one of the best preventive measures you can take.
Disaster recovery and ransomware are intimately related, simply because one follows the other. Whenever a ransomware attack has occurred, disaster recovery procedures will be needed. Even if the attack didn’t succeed, it is best to assume the worst until you know otherwise. If you would like to know more, or if you need a ransomware recovery service, you can call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.