6 Steps to Prevent and Recover from Ransomware in 2024

 Friday 19 January, 2024
Prevent and Recover from Ransomware in 2024

Ransomware attacks have evolved into one of the most prominent threats in the digital realm, wreaking havoc on individuals and businesses alike. As we enter 2024, it's crucial to be prepared to combat these cyberthreats effectively. In this blog, we'll discuss the best practices to prevent ransomware and equip you with the knowledge you need to recover swiftly if an unfortunate attack occurs.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malicious software that restricts users from accessing their devices or files unless a ransom is paid to regain access. This cyberthreat has evolved over time, encrypting data along with legitimate files, and rendering backups almost ineffective for recovery.

The alarming rise of ransomware

Ransomware attacks have increased drastically in recent times, affecting individuals and businesses at an unprecedented rate. The impact of these attacks is significant, with a whopping 92% of organizations falling victim to phishing attacks in 2022, according to Egress. With such alarming statistics, prevention and recovery from these attacks are vital.

How does ransomware work?

Ransomware operates through a well-defined sequence of actions, typically initiated by cybercriminals seeking monetary gain. It begins with the delivery and infection stage, during which the malware infiltrates the system through various vectors, such as phishing emails, drive-by downloads or infected USBs.

Once inside, the ransomware encrypts files using encryption keys controlled by the attacker and renders them inaccessible to the victim. Subsequently, a ransom demand is often delivered in the form of displayed messages or text files, asking for payment in exchange for the decryption key. Once the payment is completed, it restores access to the encrypted files.

How is ransomware delivered?

Ransomware penetrates systems through various delivery methods, each aimed at exploiting vulnerabilities and human interaction. Understanding these methods is essential for mounting an effective defense against such attacks:

  • Phishing attacks: Phishing is a prevalent method wherein cybercriminals pose as legitimate entities through emails, luring recipients to open attachments or click links that activate the ransomware upon interaction. These emails often appear genuine, exploiting human trust or carelessness.
  • Drive-by downloads: Attackers compromise legitimate websites or redirect users to malicious sites where malware is automatically downloaded and executed without the user's consent or knowledge. Vulnerabilities in browsers or plugins are exploited for this purpose.
  • USB and portable media: Physical devices, like USB drives, when infected with malware, act as carriers. When connected to a system, they automatically execute the ransomware, taking over data and demanding a ransom for release.
  • Malvertising: Malicious advertising (malvertising) involves cybercriminals injecting malware into online advertisements. When users click on those infected ads, ransomware can be silently downloaded onto their devices.

How to detect ransomware?

You’ll probably know your systems have been infected with ransomware when you see a ransom demand popping up on your screen. However, there are other common indicators of ransomware attacks, including:

  • Suspicious file activity: It’s always a red flag when you see hundreds of failed file modifications since this could be due to ransomware attempting to scan and encrypt those files.
  • Loss of access to certain files: This could be due to ransomware encrypting, deleting or renaming the data.
  • Increased disk activity: When your CPU or disk activity has increased unexpectedly, it could be due to the ransomware attempting to access files on your system.
  • Unexpected network communication: This occurs due to communication between the cybercriminals, ransomware and your server.

Best practices for ransomware prevention and recovery

While it’s nearly impossible to be completely impervious to cyberthreats, there are certain best practices your business can follow to reduce the risk of falling victim to ransomware and to quickly recover in the unfortunate event of an attack.

  1. Patch management: Regularly update and patch software to fix vulnerabilities and enhance cybersecurity. Utilize a patch management solution, such as Pulseway’s Patch Management Software, to streamline this process effectively.
  2. Employee training: Educate and remind employees constantly about identifying and handling suspicious emails, particularly in the context of phishing attacks. Besides, you can use portals like Cybernews to check if any of their personal data has been leaked.
  3. Email security solutions: Implement anti phishing solutions to scan and flag suspicious emails, providing a safer email environment for employees.
  4. Ongoing monitoring: Maintain continuous monitoring of systems to detect and investigate any unusual or suspicious activities. For example, using a remote monitoring solution allows you to identify issues without having to be on-site and rectify them immediately.
  5. Physical backups: Create physical backups of critical data on external devices and leverage cloud backup solutions for added security.
  6. Password discipline: Enforce good password practices, including the use of unique and strong passwords. Consider employing password managers and two-factor authentication for enhanced security.

By watching for blatant on-screen ransom demands or unusual file activity, and following the best practices mentioned above, individuals and organizations can act swiftly to mitigate the impact of ransomware and protect their valuable data from this pervasive digital menace. Stay informed, stay safe and stay one step ahead of ransomware in 2024.

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