Ransomware attacks have emerged as a major cyber security threat wherein user data is encrypted upon system infection, leading to business disruption and financial loss.
The target of these attacks is data that is critical to individuals and organizations alike. Threat actors are cashing in on opportunities to help seize control of valuable data to demand a ransom from the data owner.
According to studies, almost 51% of the organizations worldwide were hit by highly sophisticated ransomware attacks in 2020. These attacks used advanced command and control servers, making them challenging to reverse engineer.
Poor cyber hygiene practices have largely contributed to the success of ransomware attacks. Few generic avoidance methods are available to the general public to safeguard their devices from deadly ransomware.
In this post, we propose a few advanced techniques for ransomware avoidance, and users can follow these general techniques to protect their devices from ransomware:
1. Regular Patches and Updates
Computing Platforms that are regularly patched and updated have an extremely low chance of being infected with ransomware as most of the attackers prey upon vulnerabilities that have not been patched. Updating and Patching are not just limited to Operating Systems. Browsers and other applications that are live on the network should be updated and patched regularly.
2. Avoid emails from Unknown Sources and Attachments
Emails from unknown senders should not be opened because they may contain attachments and links that, if clicked, could infect devices with ransomware. Most of the time, ransomware emails are extremely persuasive and persuade recipients to click the links or download the attachments. Employers should provide employees with training to help them recognize phishing emails. Attackers can target an organization’s department. For instance, a hacker pretending to be a dealer might send the Inventory Department an email with a billing attachment. All email services should employ email filters and spam detection extensions.
4. Controlled Folder Access
This technique performs best in organizational settings where Windows-based devices are used for business purposes. It makes it possible for trusted programs to access the specified folders. When Controlled Folder Access is initially configured, designated folders are mapped to various applications. This method utilizes a periodically updated database of reliable applications. A program or executable cannot change the contents of the specified controlled folders if it is not listed in the trusted application database. Controlled Folder Access can safeguard boot sectors, which the most recent Ransomware families target, making it a great preventative measure. Controlled Folder Access also uses an audit mode, which can act as a honeypot for executables trying to access protected folders but not in the trusted application database.
5. Network Protection
This entails several steps, such as installing powerful firewalls or deploying layered protection firmware. The network security software should be strong enough to fully or partially withstand unknown and known threats. By logically dividing network access and capping the size of the access network, segmentation of the network is implied. Disable the Remote Desktop Protocol if you aren’t using it to access RDP (RDP). Keep an eye on everyone’s network activity and make an effort to obtain comprehensive network visibility; this will aid in identifying the attack’s path.
Avoiding ransomware typically involves choosing between impenetrable security and the freedom of digital access. The more freedom end users are given to download and install third-party software applications, the more challenging and complex the task of avoiding ransomware becomes.