Ransomware: We Hacked Your ComputerNigerian princes are no longer the only menaces lurking in an employee’s Inbox. Ransomware attacks – an especially sinister type of malware delivered through spear phishing emails that locks up valuable data assets and demands a ransom to release them – are a rapidly-growing security threat.

To prevent a ransomware attack

  1. Keep clear inventories of all of your digital assets and their locations, so cyber criminals do not attack a system you are unaware of.
  2. Keep all software up to date, including operating systems and applications.
  3. Back up all information every day, including information on employee devices, so you can restore encrypted data if attacked.
  4. Back up all information to a secure, offsite location.
  5. Segment your network: Don’t place all data on one file share accessed by everyone in the company.
  6. Train staff on cyber security practices, emphasizing not opening attachments or links from unknown sources.
  7. Develop a communication strategy to inform employees if a virus reaches the company network.
  8. Before an attack happens, work with your board to determine if your company will plan to pay a ransom or launch an investigation.
  9. Perform a threat analysis in communication with vendors to go over the cyber security throughout the lifecycle of a particular device or application.
  10. Instruct information security teams to perform penetration testing to find any vulnerabilities.

Mitigating an attack

  • If your company is hacked with ransomware, you can explore the free ransomware response kit for a suite of tools that can help. Experts also recommend the following to moderate an attack:
  • Research if similar malware has been investigated by other IT teams, and if it is possible to decrypt it on your own. About 30 percent of encrypted data can be decrypted without paying a ransom.
  • Remove the infected machines from the network, so the ransomware does not use the machine to spread throughout your network.
  • Decide whether or not to make an official investigation, or pay the ransom and take it as a lesson learned.

This article is distilled from TechRepublic’s “How to avoid ransomware attacks: 10 tips

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