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Ransomware Prevention: Strategies to Keep Your Data Safe

Ransomware Prevention: Strategies to Keep Your Data Safe

Ransomware attacks have become a near-constant threat, leaving businesses of every size vulnerable to losing precious operating data and considerable revenue after dealing with the aftermath of a successful breach.

If your company hasn’t addressed the risks posed by ransomware yet, confronting existing vulnerabilities in your systems sooner rather than later is a smart idea. Protecting your sensitive information now ensures that criminal hackers won’t succeed at sabotaging the organization you worked so hard at building up.

So, what can you do to combat ransomware attacks? We’ll get into this in more detail below, but you can start by creating a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy involving everyone in your organization.

This approach will prevent future ransomware attacks and limit the havoc this type of attack can wreak on your company. With that in mind, here are 10 ransomware protection best practices to keep your essential operating data safe from threat actors.

1. Improve resiliency of internet-facing applications

Conducting behavior-based IP reputation service to detect and stop suspicious activity on internet-facing applications is vital for protecting vulnerable your attack surfaces from ransomware. BOSS SPIDER, one of the first big game hunting (BGH) ransomware threat actors, has exposed the importance of regularly monitoring RDP access points.

Other ransomware variants such as Dharma, Phobos, and GlobeImposter frequently gain unauthorized access to unsecured systems by using brute-force attacks on RDPs accessible from the internet.

2. Robust email security

Email is usually the first point of entry for BGH ransomware groups. Phishing emails will often include malicious links, URLs, and attachment-delivering payloads to recipients’ workstations.

To ensure the safety of your business data, PCH Technologies recommends that you implement a robust email security solution that does URL filtering and attachment sandboxing.

You should, furthermore, use automated responses to retroactively quarantine emails before your authorized users interact with them. It’s best to restrict employees from receiving password-protected zip files, executables, javascripts, and Windows Installer package files, unless strictly necessary for completed required tasks.

3. Harden your endpoints

Attack lifecycles often involve endpoint exploitation techniques such as exploiting poor active directory (AD) configurations and unpatched systems and applications.

Consider the following steps to harden your systems against ransomware:

  • Implement comprehensive endpoint security across all endpoints.
  • Create a vulnerability and patch management program.
  • Maintain AD security in accordance with the best practices.

4. Practice sound digital hygiene

Optimal network visibility across all your endpoints and workloads running in your digital environment is essential to good cyber hygiene. Achieving transparency into the “who, what, and where” of your systems allows you to understand the scope of the threat and enables proactive cleaning.

5. Ransomware-proof data with offline backups

The only effective way to protect against data loss during a ransomware attack is to maintain offline data backups disconnected from your regular network. Threat actors frequently target online offsite backups, which is why businesses shouldn’t neglect to secure them.

Ensuring that your networks deliver information to securely managed backups and implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for access are fundamental to maintaining optimal ransomware protection. Consider, as well, setting up automated responses to assist in emergency situations.

6. Restrict access to the virtualization management infrastructure

Criminal hackers have been successfully targeting virtualized infrastructure by attacking VMDKs located in Hypervisors for some time now. Access to virtualization management infrastructure should be strictly limited, and you should use MFA to complete all authentications.

7. Implement zero-trust architecture

Zero-trust architecture requires users to go through MFA to obtain access to a network and its data. You can use identity protection tools to analyze familiar and unfamiliar behavior patterns and implement risk-based conditional access to detect and stop ransomware.

8. Stay protected with regular updates

Routine system updates are vital to safeguard your business from ransomware attacks. Create a maintenance plan that ensures your operating systems, applications, and software are updated regularly.

Remember that attackers look for unpatched security gaps. Setting up auto-updates for the latest patches is, therefore, one of the better investments you can make to protect your data. Having the most up-to-date security versions goes a long way in ensuring your data remains secure.

9. Develop and pressure-test an incident response plan

Organizations must swiftly respond to threats or breaches to prevent or minimize the damage. An effective emergency response plan should consider all possible scenarios and cover the entire response effort — from the security team having the authority to take decisive action if a ransomware attack appears imminent — to steps everyone in your organization should take. Any such plan should be stress-tested, adjusted accordingly, and reevaluated regularly.

10. Know when to reach out for expert outsourced assistance

If there is a sign of suspicious activity or a potential ransomware attack, it is imperative to seek professional assistance immediately to keep sensitive data from being compromised. The earlier the security team recognizes a threat and takes appropriate action, the greater the chance of protecting your data.

Business owners must ensure their teams are enabled and have access to the right resources and knowledge they need to respond to a breach. Doing this will help the organization take effective action in the face of a ransomware attack.

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Ransomware attacks can be disastrous, resulting in egregious essential data loss and severe operational disruptions. But they are far from unavoidable because there are, of course, several more steps that businesses can take to ensure the safety of their sensitive data than those discussed here.

The primary protection measures, however, should include developing robust internet-facing applications, implementing and enhancing email security, hardening endpoints, creating offline backups and a zero-trust architecture; and, most importantly, having an impactful disaster response and recovery plan.

For additional support and to get all your ransomware and disaster recovery questions answered, connect with an experienced PCH Technologies security technician at (856) 754-7500. Or, leave us your contact info and book your free discovery call on the PCH Technologies website now.