Since the WannaCry outbreak in 2017, ransomware attacks have been on the rise. This further increased during the Covid pandemic, as the shift to remote work left businesses with gaps in their cyber security.
Ransomware attacks have remained a popular choice with cyber criminals, and it’s vital for businesses to know how to stay protected. In this blog, we explore the world of ransomware attacks, what they are, how to prevent them, and the crucial steps to take after falling victim to an attack.
What are ransomware attacks?
Ransomware is a malicious software designed to encrypt a user’s files or entire systems, rendering them inaccessible. Once encrypted, the attackers demand a ransom, typically in cryptocurrency, in exchange for restoring access. These attacks often exploit vulnerabilities in security systems, infiltrating networks through phishing emails, malicious websites, or software vulnerabilities.
How to prevent ransomware attacks
Regular data backups
Implement a thorough backup strategy, ensuring that critical data is regularly backed up to an offline or cloud-based system. This reduces the impact of an attack, allowing for the restoration of systems without giving in to ransom demands.
Employee training and awareness
Educate employees on recognising phishing attempts and other social engineering tactics. Human error is a common entry point for ransomware, so the knowledge of your team will often be the first line of defence.
Update and patch systems
Regularly update and patch operating systems, software, and applications to close vulnerabilities. Attackers often exploit outdated systems, making it essential to stay ahead with the latest security updates.
Deploy advanced security solutions
Invest in the latest antivirus and anti-malware solutions, along with intrusion detection systems. These tools can identify and prevent ransomware before it has chance to take effect.
How to respond to ransomware attacks
Do not pay the ransom
The golden rule – don’t pay the ransom! There is no guarantee that paying will result in the recovery of files, and it only encourages criminals to carry out further attacks. Instead, focus on restoring systems from backups and strengthening security measures.
Isolate infected systems
Immediately isolate affected systems to prevent the spread of ransomware throughout the network. Disconnecting compromised devices can mitigate further damage and protect other assets.
Report and seek advice
Report the incident to the police and contact cyber security professionals to help respond to the attack. Police can then work to investigate the incident, while cyber security experts can assist in mitigating the damage.
Develop a communication plan to inform stakeholders, customers, and employees about the incident. Transparent communication helps maintain trust and provides clarity on the steps being taken to address the situation.
Ransomware attacks are a persistent threat in the digital landscape, requiring proactive measures and a well-defined response strategy. By implementing preventive measures, staying vigilant, and having a robust response plan in place, organisations can significantly reduce their risk and ensure business continuity.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to boost your cyber security and how it can benefit your business, contact us today to speak with one of our experts.