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How to Be Ready for a Ransomware Attack

Published on February 23, 2022

Ransomware attacks are a growing concern among C-suites of large corporations and those of smaller businesses. Even independent entrepreneurs need to stay alert, as they might find themselves on the lists of potential targets as well.

However, as running a business in today's world is almost impossible without any form of online presence, successfully avoiding cybersecurity threats can be a challenging task. Threat actors behind ransomware usually have a technological advantage over regular employees — not to mention that they are also highly skilled in computer science.

So, what can companies do to prevent hackers from accessing their core systems and data? The most straightforward answer to this question is: predicting the attack before it happens and making much-needed preparations. Here are some critical steps business leaders need to take to prepare their organisations for a ransomware attack.

Learning About the Enemy

To not become a victim of a ransomware attack, company leadership needs to ensure that everyone in the organisation knows the enemy. Company executives should invest in training programs aimed at increasing the cybersecurity awareness of their staff. In fact, they should also attend such programs themselves.

By partaking in cybersecurity training, attendees can learn more about the most common types of malware and how to deal with them effectively. It is an excellent occasion to ask the experts about the latest news on ransomware and get them to share some tips on protecting the company's computer systems and other valuable assets.

Evaluating the Level of Risk

After learning about malware such as rootkits, remote access trojans, and keyloggers, business owners need to evaluate how deadly a ransomware attack can be for their company. Here are a few key things to consider:

  • How long can the business operations be disrupted without a significant loss in revenue?
  • How high of a recovery cost can the enterprise cover?
  • Does the organisation have a backup of essential files and data?
  • Does the company have the ability to restore the environment from a backup?
  • How extensive and complex is the business' network?
  • Is there a plan in line for informing key stakeholders and customers about the attack?
  • Is the executive board willing to pay the ransom to get the decryption key in order to restore access to the network? If yes, then to which extent?
  • Have the organisation even been a victim of security failures and cyber-attacks in the past?

Answering these questions can help identify potential weaknesses in the company's infrastructure. This, in turn, is the critical step in developing a successful response plan.

Developing a Cyber Incident Response Plan

Although creating a response plan cannot prevent attackers from gaining access to the company's website and files, it is the best solution to minimise the damage. Even when only one segment of the business is compromised, having a plan for such an occasion can be a significant advantage.

Most cyber incident response plans outline vital elements that organisations need to protect. These can range from financial services to project management software. The main goal here is to provide an additional layer of protection for critical assets that allow the business to carry out everyday operations.

Besides, companies should devote some time to assessing vulnerabilities in their security systems. By finding the weakest link in the chain, they can better prepare for dealing with the attacker. For instance, they can add more security measures to detect malware faster and stop it before it spreads to other services.

Organisations should also take necessary steps to ensure everyone knows what to do once the attack has happened. When it is too late to prevent the data from being stolen, deleted, or encrypted, every department should know what tasks it needs to complete — from customer service and marketing to sales and human resources. This way, the firm can quickly get back on track and minimise the loss of money due to the long break in providing their services.

Focusing on Preventing Ransomware Attacks

Thanks to the assessment of risks, organisations can focus on addressing burning issues before the attack occurs. For instance, they can invest in new hardware or make the whole network more complex to constrain the spread of malware. Alternatively, if they are specifically worried about receiving phishing emails, they might increase the frequency of antivirus scans and start using multi-factor authentication.

While these changes may seem insignificant at first glance, they could make the enterprise a much less enticing target, effectively lowering the likelihood of a ransomware attack or any other cyber incident. After all, if the business' data is well-protected, cyber-criminals have to jump over more fences to get their hands on it. As a result, it simply may not be worth the trouble — especially considering that not every organisation hit by ransomware attacks will decide to make payment.

Sticking to the Principles

As the internet is home to many other dangers than just ransomware malware, following a few simple safety rules is the wisest decision everyone can make. Here is a quick rundown of the most important tips to stay safe online:

  • Practising safe browsing — To prevent personal data from being stolen by hackers, everyone should visit only safe parts of the web. By enabling privacy safeguards on firm computers, C-suits can prevent their workers from entering dangerous sites that can be the source of potential attacks.
  • Creating backups — Creating a backup of crucial data is the best way to avoid making a hefty payment to hackers and boost the security and risk management of the organisation.
  • Using complex passwords — Paying a ransom always leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of every CEO. Nonetheless, it can be incredibly excruciating if the attacker places ransomware in the company's system by guessing the password to its email inbox. To prevent this from happening, companies should incentivise using complex passwords.

The Bottom Line

Even though not every business will be the target of cyber-criminals, business owners should assume that some malware will try to infiltrate their organisation sooner or later. To limit the damages caused by such a malicious attack, they should learn more about potential threats and make ransomware-specific risk assessments. Additionally, if they do not want to pay the expensive ransom, they need to develop a top-notch response plan. In combination with addressing the most glaring weaknesses in their infrastructure, they can make their businesses much safer.

Thanks to these methods, every enterprise can be well-prepared for fighting off ransomware attacks and other cyber threats.