Fortifying Your Defenses

Proven Strategies to Prevent Ransomware

Ransomware attack

Ransomware is a formidable cybersecurity menace that has increasingly become what some call a global crisis in recent years. In this exploration, we’ll investigate the mechanics, real-life impact, prevention tactics, the potential future of ransomware attacks, and how a trusted IT services provider like TenisiTech can help. Please click here to arrange a complimentary consultation and begin the journey towards tailored solutions for your organization.

What is Ransomware?

How Ransomware Works

Real Examples of Ransomware Attacks

There is an alarming number of real-world ransomware attacks as the number of attacks increases exponentially over time. Here are just a few examples: 

  • Oakland, CA. The city of Oakland, California, became the victim of an attack in February of 2023 when a cybercriminal deployed ransomware on the city’s systems. This attack was particularly devastating because of the shutdown of systems and the leakage of employee and resident data. The city was forced to issue a local state of emergency as a result. 
  • Fortinet. Fortinet claims to be a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, but even they were not safe from cyberattacks. Malicious actors exploited a vulnerability in FortiOS to target governments and large organizations. 
  • MOVEit. The MOVEit breach was considered the largest hack of the year, with more than 60 million individuals impacted. A vulnerability in MOVEit’s transfer servers allowed hackers to steal sensitive client data, including social security numbers. The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles, the Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing, and the Oregon Department of Transportation were among the victims. 
  • Sharp Health Systems. In early 2023, Sharp Healthcare notified their patients that a hacker had compromised the computers running their website. The company stressed that PII (Personally Identifiable Data) such as social security numbers, date of birth, and credit card information were not accessed. However, cybercriminals obtained the names of patients who had used their online billing systems.  

Beyond the obvious financial loss, ransomware attacks often cause data breaches, leading to compromised client information and regulatory compliance violations. Resulting reputational damage can be long-lasting and difficult to recover from. It’s hard to continue to do business when consumers no longer trust you. 

Prevent Ransomware

The best way to prevent ransomware is by employing foundational security. Many organizations are reactive. They wait for the impact of a cyberattack before they consider best practices. Often, if a business is unprepared and has no backups in place, data is incredibly hard to recover after a ransomware attack. Security can be compared to an onion. The more layers you have, the harder it is for a hacker to penetrate them all. TenisiTech believes in proactive IT management, as should every leader who wants to avoid an expensive business disruption. 

Proactive cybersecurity measures such as firewalls, endpoint encryption, and next-generation antivirus can bolster your defense against ransomware. These technologies can all help to detect and stop attacks in their tracks before they can infiltrate your network. 

Keeping operating systems and software applications updated is essential in minimizing vulnerabilities that ransomware might exploit. Regularly applying security patches is a necessary proactive defense against potential cyberattacks. You must make patching a priority within your business. 

Human error is the number one vulnerability when it comes to a ransomware attack. Rigorous employee training on phishing scams, social engineering tactics, and online best practices can help prevent employees from inadvertently opening malicious attachments or clicking on harmful links. Training is one of your best defenses to prevent ransomware. While cybercriminals can undoubtedly be sophisticated and highly skilled, most employees become victims of phishing scams due to a simple lack of awareness. 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is one of the best ransomware prevention measures, as it requires two or more forms of identification before users are granted access. If hackers manage to acquire critical login details, MFA will prevent further damage by preventing lateral movement and mitigating phishing risks. 

Up-to-date data backups that are unconnected to other systems (or Air Gap Backups) are a crucial prevention measure. In a ransomware attack, companies can restore their systems with an Air Gap Backup without giving in to a criminal’s demands. Written disaster recovery policies should outline the steps to take when recovering from an attack. 

Regular audits should be implemented to ensure security and operational protocols are correctly followed. There is no point in establishing foundational security practices if they are followed incorrectly. Double checking your written policies are being followed is imperative to your organization’s security. 

Business leaders may view these foundational best security practices as burdensome, but they may be the only thing standing between your business and financial, reputational, and operational damage. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to potentially devastating cyberattacks like ransomware. Prevent ransomware by partnering with an industry leader in IT like TenisiTech. 

Enhanced Prevention

An organization that already stringently follows the best foundational security practices may inquire about what other steps can be taken to mitigate cyberattacks like ransomware. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a series of processes and tools that ensure sensitive data cannot be misused, lost, or accessed by unauthorized users. 

DLP is primarily used to prevent unauthorized access and the sharing of sensitive data rather than preventing ransomware. However, DLP solutions play a role in a broader cybersecurity strategy to mitigate the risks associated with ransomware.

DLP technology can be a helpful measure for both data at rest and data in transit: 

  • Data at Rest: DLP solutions can scan files, databases, workstations, and servers to identify sensitive data. Then, access controls can be implemented and enforced. 
  • Data in Transit: DLP can monitor data as it moves across the network and is sent via FTP, email, or other methods. DLP solutions can block the transfer or encrypt data if sensitive data is detected. 

Critical features of DLP incorporate content discovery, monitoring, policy enforcement, alerting, and encryption. Applications may include compliance, intellectual property protection, insider threat mitigation, and remote work security. 

After a Ransomware Attack

Ransomware Payment

Law Enforcement and Ransomware

The Future of Ransomware

As defenses improve, ransomware attackers become more sophisticated by developing new techniques and attack vectors. AI-generated phishing emails and advanced encryption methods will likely be on the rise. 

The good news is that AI and machine learning technology can identify and mitigate ransomware attacks. These tools are often baked into pre-existing software and can recognize ransomware-related patterns, anomalies, and behavioral changes. However, the more sophisticated prevention tools become, the more criminals will adjust to them, leading to an ongoing game of cat and mouse. 

Going Forward

Ransomware remains an evolving threat that demands a proactive and powerful multi-faceted defense strategy, like those offered by TenisiTech. Understanding prevention, impact, and mechanisms is essential for individuals, companies, and governments to counter this cybersecurity menace effectively. Practicing vigilance and investing in cutting-edge defense technology will be vital in mitigating expensive ransomware threats. 

Are you prepared for a ransomware attack? Many businesses are at risk and continue to remain reactive to cybersecurity threats like ransomware. Don’t be a victim. Get proactive about ransomware mitigation by reaching out to TenisiTech today, your trusted partner in IT security.