What Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is arguably one of the greatest menaces on the web. But do you know exactly how it works and the steps you need to take to safeguard your organization’s network?
Watch our latest video on ransomware to get started:
What Is a Ransomware Attack?
Ransomware is a category of malware used by bad cyber actors to lock and encrypt a victim’s data, after which they demand a payment to unencrypt and unlock the data.
Ransomware attacks are designed to exploit any system, network, software, or human vulnerabilities to infect a victim’s device. That includes printers, computers, smartphones, point-of-sale terminal, or any other endpoint.
How Is Ransomware Distributed? A device becomes infected when you visit a web page, click on a link or install an app, file, or program that has malicious code intended to download and install the ransomware secretly.
There are also several ways in which this can occur:
- Phishing Email: This can happen when you click on a link embedded in an email that redirects you to a malicious webpage.\
- Social Media: This might occur when you click on a malicious link on Twitter, Facebook, or instant messenger chats.
- Traffic Distribution System: This can occur when you click on a link on a genuine gateway webpage that sends you to a malicious site depending on filters like your browser, geolocation, operating system, etc.
How Does Ransomware Work? The ransomware attack begins once your device has been exposed to the malicious code. By remaining dormant, ransomware typically executes an attack only when the device is most vulnerable.
How Can You Protect Your Network Against Ransomware? There are several best practices you can implement to mitigate the threat of a ransomware attack, including:
- Endpoint Protection: An obvious first step in protecting against ransomware is installing the latest antivirus software. However, legacy antivirus tools cannot defend against some variants of ransomware. The latest endpoint protection platforms offer NGAV (next-generation antivirus) that safeguards against complex attacks.
- Back-Up Your Data: You must implement a robust data backup strategy that includes routine backups to an external hard-drive and using versioning control. You also need to apply the 3-2-1 rule in which you develop three backup copies on two separate media and store one back up in a different location. Because ransomware attacks backups, it’s advisable to disconnect the hard-drive from the device completely.
- Patch Management: You have to ensure the installed apps and operating systems in your devices are always up to date with the latest security patches. You should also perform regular vulnerability scans to pinpoint and remediate any potential weaknesses.
- Email Protection: Your employees need to be trained to identify social engineering emails. Beyond carrying out security awareness training for your end-users, you also need to perform mock attacks to test your staff. You should complement your security training with cutting edge spam and endpoint protection technologies that automatically block suspicious emails and malicious links.
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