#HowTo: Ensure a Healthy and Ransomware-Proof Environment

The past two years have seen a radical shift in worldwide business operations. To adapt to pandemic-induced lockdowns, many businesses switched to fully or semi-remote work environments and migrated large amounts of data to the cloud. While this expansion has had its advantages, it has also increased the threat landscape immensely, and the repercussions of that became clear in the recent ransomware epidemic.

The increase in ransomware attacks has cost businesses across different industries valuable data, time and money, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay the ransom, too. This article explores the key challenges that businesses face when dealing with ransomware and the best practices to protect your business environment and maintain healthy data in any situation. 

Keep Your Network in Check 

Once inside, ransomware can spread through a network easily. If you don’t know what’s happening inside your network, you won’t be able to protect critical data and anticipate attacks effectively. Constantly monitor network traffic, identify suspicious activity and take action accordingly. 

Regular Backup Is Key 

Identifying and backing up critical data is an essential step to avoid encryption by ransomware attacks. However, ransomware can still encrypt backup data, so make sure to copy backups to a separate location, such as a local device or the cloud, to ensure maximum availability and recoverability. In case of an attack, check that your backups are not infected before restoring them. 

Create a Good Disaster Recovery Plan 

To mitigate the risks of ransomware infection, you should develop and constantly test a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that covers every aspect of a disaster situation. Instead of only having the single, costly option of paying the ransom, a good disaster recovery plan can restore business operations with minimal damage. 

Ditch Legacy Backup Solutions 

If you’re going to use a data protection solution for your backup and disaster recovery strategies, stick to a modern one with reliable anti-ransomware capabilities. Legacy backup solutions use outdated methods to combat a rapidly-developing threat, and they can waste resources due to their reliance on older elements such as backup agents. 

Keep Employees Vigilant 

Successful ransomware attacks do not strictly rely on the technical elements of a company, as the human agent can be a very easy target. This is why it’s important to properly train employees on how ransomware works and what they can do to avoid infection, including avoiding suspicious links or attachments. 

Maintain Strict Access Control 

The zero trust security model can be a lifesaver for any company that wants a healthy infrastructure. To prevent attackers from accessing and encrypting your data, make sure that employees can access only the data their position strictly requires. This can limit ransomware entry points and improve overall security. 

Keep Backup Data Encrypted 

It’s important to make sure that your backup data is encrypted during transfer, especially over WAN. Reliable encryption maintains data integrity and security against potential attackers. If the target site is not fully secure, keep data encrypted at rest for maximum security. 

Update Everything 

Ensure that all software and operating systems in your company always have the latest security patches installed. Updates often introduce vital security improvements that can reduce potential breach points in your infrastructure. 

Keep Foreign USB Sticks Away 

Never connect an unknown USB stick to any device in your network. A common practice used by cyber-criminals is to randomly leave ransomware-infected USB sticks in public spaces for unsuspecting individuals to pick up and use. 

Filter Emails 

Email is a very common entry point for ransomware attacks. In addition to conducting security awareness training, you can prevent email breaches by using email filtering technology to keep phishing content from reaching inboxes in your network. 

Don’t Pay the Ransom 

By carrying out successful attacks, cyber-criminals have been using ransom money to create even more powerful ransomware, leading to a dangerous cycle of successful attacks and stronger malware. Despite that, you can still protect your valuable data from malicious attacks through vigilance and effective prevention.

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