Ransomware attacks have become commonplace now. Every day, systems and organisations are attacked, and data and credentials are stolen relentlessly. In addition, billions of credentials are put up for sale daily on the dark web. Businesses that fail to develop strategies for ransomware defence fall prey to such attacks and lose a lot of money and customer trust. Account takeovers are another major cause for concern for many businesses as their customers’ data remains very vulnerable all the time. However, there are strategies that businesses could employ to reduce the risk of any potential ransomware attacks.
Here are seven strategies for ransomware defence for small businesses.
- Cybersecurity Audits
The easiest way to prevent intrusions is to intrude yourself. Audits are a great way to identify the gaps in your company’s cyber network. Such audits help you find the vulnerabilities that can be acted upon and sealed before any hacker hopes to exploit them.
There are two types of vulnerabilities: compromised credentials and improper IT infrastructure. The efficacy of such audits can be improved if a third party is hired. It is highly likely that an internal audit will fail to identify and admit any shortcomings. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you hire a third-party organisation to perform a thorough audit in such a case. Also, choose an organisation that uses the latest threat intelligence techniques to identify security holes. Performing regular security audits and checks also improve customer trust in your organisation and credibility. Also, notify your team after the audit as it will improve the transparency of the audit.
- Improvise Your IT Department
Most cybersecurity attacks are successful because the IT department at the targeted company is not equipped with the adequate technology to fend off any trespassers or are not trained enough. Hiring only a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is not enough for a larger firm. The CISO needs to be supported by a team of highly trained professionals that are adept at identifying threats.
The team developed for the task should be quick at their feet and highly receptive to the current scenarios. As a result, the response times in case of an attack should be minimum, and countermeasures should always be ready at hand. Unfortunately, most small and medium businesses don’t possess the necessary bandwidth to fend off such attacks. Hence, a viable strategy to prevent ransomware attacks would be to hire an MSSP. MSSPs or managed security service providers specialise in providing security solutions 24/7 to such companies. The MSSPs would cover all your security issues ranging from firewall and cloud issues to intrusion detection and anti-viral and anti-malware threats. However, it is advisable to choose your MSSP carefully as these organisations are mostly under heavy load from many clients. You do not want a scenario when the MSSP is itself under attack.
- Set Up a Backup Action Plan
Even with an adequate security measure, the chances are that your corporation might face a full-blown attack. In such unfortunate instances, it is advisable to install a recovery action plan. Fire and emergency drills are performed regularly as they encapsulate employee safety, but what about emergency IT drills? Companies should regularly perform drills and revise action plans so as to reduce employee panic and the potential of data loss during a total corporate system shutdown.
So, it is an advisable strategy for ransomware defence to prepare your team for any potential attack. First, realise that the most common area of attack is the accounts department. Hackers recognise that getting paid in full is easier if they target the company accounts. Hence, protect the accounts department diligently. Also, it is an expert recommendation not to pay the hackers any ransom and wait for the cyber security department’s instructions.
- Learn about Threat Intelligence
Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Instead, understand the latest developments in cyber-threats and constantly work toward using that knowledge to mitigate events. There are three kinds of threat intelligence:
- Ongoing Attack Detection: there are several firewalls and security software pre-installed in your system that you can use to safeguard yourself. This software will protect you from denial-of-service attacks.
- Data Compromise: there are service providers that, if employed, constantly searches the dark web for any of your data that is compromised. They will let you know about a data breach as soon as it happens and improves the chances of enacting legal measures.
- Compromised Credential: teach yourself and your employees about the constant threat to passwords and credentials. If your credential data gets compromised and leaked online, immediately call the responders and implement your emergency plan.
Also, don’t rely on multi-factor authentication systems; they are not a good strategy for ransomware defence. Once the hackers find your credentials, the multi-factor system turns to a single-factor system that can be easily circumvented.
- Learn about Account Takeovers
Account takeovers are another form of identity and theft fraud. The intruder gains access to the owner’s credentials and impersonates them. Account takeovers are the largest threat to any corporate’s sensitive data.
To understand account takeovers, you should understand how the hacker thinks. The hackers collect credentials from the large database of compromised email and password pairs. The automated system of entering and checking credentials on third-party apps allows hackers to sit back and wait until they get a hit. Too often, users set the same password for multiple websites and get attacked by hackers. The process is repeated for the billions of credentials they can find. They are highly likely to find multiple credentials of your employees and thus, breach your systems. So, learn more about the different methods of account takeovers and train your employees against the same. You will also need software monitoring systems that could flag any data breach.
- Stolen Passwords are Always a Looming Threat
Weaker corporations will have weaker security measures, and hence more of their data will get compromised. Hackers follow this point to identify their target corporations. Compromised passwords also reveal a lot more information than you would think.
Legacy passwords, the worst kind of compromised passwords, are the credentials of former employees whose accounts are still working in the firm’s system. For hackers, this is a good way to identify the starting point of attack. CEOs are the favourite targets for hackers. If compromised, the CEO can provide easy access to money orders for the hackers. They could send themselves money or ask the CFO to do so. Close the accounts of employees that have left the company immediately.
- Get Cybersecurity Insurance
It has become increasingly evident that cyber-attacks are growing by the day. Hackers are developing and forging new methods to breach and extract data. In addition, even the most secure systems are hacked by groups such as Anonymous. In such a dire state, it is a highly recommended strategy for ransomware defence that corporations look into obtaining cybersecurity insurances that would help them recover from the blow of a successful cyber-attack.
Getting cybersecurity insurance is not an easy task as well. The insurers follow strict guidelines to check if the insured company is liable to get the insurance or not. The company insured should also have certain security measures in place to prevent cyber-attacks.
Companies have long turned their face away from possible cyber-attacks, but it is high time now. They have to face the harsh, uncertain reality of the present world and fight back by developing strategies to prevent ransomware attacks. Corporations should team up and collaborate to produce new security solutions. They should push each other to constantly update their systems and always stay one step ahead of the mal-intent hackers.