Criminal hackers might block your ability to access your data, then put the data up for sale online to the highest bidder, adds Shaun Murphy, founder of message and file security firm Sndr. Celebrities could be subject to such tactics, as well as organizations with sensitive data and lots of competitors—some of which might be willing to pay to get access to your data.
How to minimize the ransomware threat
As much as possible, keep current database backups stored on air-gapped storage, where the backed-up data resides on a device with no network connection, Volynkin recommends.
Phishing emails continue to be one of the most common ransomware “attack vectors,” Volynkin notes. As a result, it’s important to keep email filtering rules updated at all times and to provide ongoing employee education. Teach team members how to identify suspicious email and links.
Be cautious about admin credentials, too. “Eventually someone will click on a link in a phishing email and (the malware) will make it into your system,” Volynkin says. “If the person (clicking the link) has wide open access to your network, like admin credentials, the ransomware will have an easier time accessing important files.”
As always, use layered security with regular security software patches, vulnerability management, system hardening, and always-updated endpoint protection suites, adds Avivah Litan, a VP Distinguished Analyst at Gartner focused on cyber security.
Be clear on the security measures and technologies in place at any cloud services your organization uses, suggests Murphy. “Every day we hear about some massive security breach, and there are many more you don’t hear about,” he says. “If you or your business puts everything in the cloud, you might feel safe from a local attack like ransomware. But think again. What’s protecting your company’s data on these services? Is it a user name and password or something more? What about the employees at these cloud companies, since they have physical access to the servers? What could they do to your data?”
In the event of a ransomware attack, having strong security and well-protected backups can help you avoid the worst-case scenarios—paying the ransom, which only encourages more ransomware attacks, or losing big chunks of data.
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