Ransomware in the spotlight: How to guard against attack

Is there anything more frightening than being locked out of your most important and sensitive files? This is just the reality that a number of individual users and businesses have dealt with recently due to the growing threat of ransomware.

Ransomware infections have been on our collective radars for a few years now, and as hackers update and advance their malicious tactics, they will continue to pose a threat to networks across industry sectors into the near future.

“There had been 14 major ransomware-based attacks on health care providers this year as   of October 2016.”

Thankfully, there are some best practices and tools your organization can leverage to prevent falling victim to a ransomware attack. Let’s take a look at this pervasive problem and what can be done about it.

Noteworthy ransomware attacks

While all industries have been impacted by ransomware infections, some verticals have seen more attention from cybercriminals than others. This was especially true in 2016, when targeted attacks against the health care and financial services sectors soared.

According to Healthcare IT News‘s Jessica Davis, there had been 14 major ransomware-based attacks on health care providers this year as of October 2016. One of the affected institutions was the Professional Dermatology Care center in Reston, Virginia. The attack, which occurred during June, resulted in the malicious encryption of more than 13,000 patient files including both financial and health details. While officials insist the motivation behind the attack — similar to countless other attacks — was monetary gain, there were concerns about misuse of patient data.

International Business Times reporter India Ashok noted that the financial sector, along with several other industries, caught the attention of hackers in 2016 as well. Overall, the city of London suffered more than 10,000 ransomware infection attempts, including those impacting the region’s largest banks.

And, unfortunately, these organizations have considerable company. Fedscoop reported that there are now as many as 4,000 ransomware attacks reported daily, affecting individuals as well as businesses of all sizes.
 

 
Ransomware infections are on the rise, preventing users from accessing their most critical files.

Preventing infection: Top best practices

Within this environment, it’s clear that guarding against a ransomware attack should be a top priority for businesses of all size and in every industry. There are a few best practices organizations can leverage to reduce their chances of falling victim:

  • Educate users: First and foremost, it’s critical to ensure that employee users are aware of this threat, and know what to look for. Suspicious activity and slow performance can be early warning signs of an infection, and can help network admins work quickly to contain and mitigate the attack.
  • Update all systems: It’s also crucial that all security patches and updates have been installed for the solutions an organization leverages. This helps guard against emerging threats.
  • Have robust backups in place: As CIO contributor Paul Mah pointed out, preventing a ransomware infection is “all about backups.” If data is encrypted by an outside malicious actor, being able to access a backup copy removes all of a hacker’s power. A 3-2-1 backup strategy is one of the most effective. This strategy encompasses having three backup copies of critical data, including two stored locally and one stored at an alternate location. This ensures that even if on-premises resources are compromised, important data isn’t completely lost.

Ransomware infections are only increasing in frequency, and new samples are discovered every day. Protect yourself and your organization with robust backups and the latest network security solutions. To find out more, contact the experts at Untangle today.