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How to Protect Against Ransomware? All About Ransomware Protection

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How to Protect Against Ransomware? All About Ransomware Protection

Ransomware Protection Guide

Every 19 seconds a new ransomware attack happens, leading to significant financial and reputational damage. You need to protect your company from ransomware. But what is the best ransomware protection? Let’s find out.

What You Should Know About Ransomware

Ransomware is a special malware that blocks access to your data or device, trying to make you pay a ransom to get your data back. Annual ransomware damage reaches as high as $11 billion, and it continues to grow. 

If you would like to get a more detailed insight, read our article about the ransomware threat.

How Ransomware Works

Ransomware usually spreads through phishing emails. Another way is when an employee clicks the wrong link somewhere over the internet, allowing malicious code to enter the corporate network. These are two common ways, but it is worth mentioning that the infection methods are becoming more sophisticated every day.

Once a computer is infected, the ransomware locks its files with a strong encryption algorithm, based on cryptographical science, so the files can’t be decrypted without a special digital key. 

Ransomware encryption may affect your operating system completely, or just the most meaningful files. But anyway, the working station becomes non-operational until the ransom is paid, or a huge data recovery work is done by cybersecurity experts. 

However, paying the ransom will not guarantee peace of mind: more money could be demanded immediately after the first payment or later. In some cases, criminals do not keep their word, and the files may become encrypted forever. 

How to Avoid Ransomware Infection

With average ransomware demand of $36,295 and data loss in 39% cases after paying the ransom, you probably understand that paying hackers is not an option. Decrypting ransomware may take days, with all the accompanying costs.

It’s not a surprise, that it’s always better to avoid ransomware infection than to face its consequences. And you don’t have to be a cryptography expert to protect yourself from ransomware.

Just take a look at the best ransomware protection practices (we’ll explain them later in the article):

  • Arrange Cybersecurity Training for Your Employees. 
  • Set Up Strong Password Policy.
  • Develop and Implement a Backup Strategy.
  • Set Up Antimalware Software.
  • Monitor and Control Applications.
  • Structure Your Network.

Arrange Cybersecurity Training for Your Employees 

Cybersecurity awareness among your colleagues is the first line of defense against ransomware.

In most cases, a user performs an action that triggers a ransomware attack. That’s why your employee training is crucial for the safety of the whole organization. Make sure that you have an easy to understand cybersecurity training conducted, and all the information is efficiently learned. 

To minimize the resistance and improve the training results within your organization, you need to explain your colleagues that it is important to learn about cybersecurity. Managers will then need to make sure people know how to safely behave over the internet and within your internal IT infrastructure. Some testing (and rewards) will help too.

In your training materials, don’t forget to explain these key precautions:

  • Always think before clicking any links in your emails or over the internet. 
  • Understand where the link is guiding to.
  • Check if the website/email looks reputable enough.

For example, you can get an email that appears to be from a famous delivery service, but you’re not expecting any parcel. That is a good time to be cautious, right? 

Another important thing is to remember that you need to double-check the spelling of the sender’s email address or the domain name of any website you are going to visit. It is important because cyber criminals usually use those domain name misspellings to make people visit a malicious website instead of a reputable one.

Perhaps, the best way to educate your employees is by running a mock phishing attack. You can send out fake phishing emails and watch people clicking the links. After that, explain that in real life they might have caused a ransomware infection.

Set Up Strong Password Policy

Even the simplest thing may make a difference. Passwords are a perfect example. After all, weak password policy is the reason behind up to 81% of data breaches. Thus, we recommend you to create a strong password policy and ensure your employees understand and follow it.  

A strong password policy is extremely important, and here are some of the main rules:

  • Create a unique password for your work. It shouldn’t be the same as in your social media. 
  • Don’t make your password too short. It should include eight characters at least. The more the better, and having a whole phrase may be a good idea.
  • Use various characters. A combination of upper- and lowercase letters, digits, and symbols is what makes your password strong.
  • Never create too obvious passwords like 123456, qwerty, abcdef.
  • Change your passwords regularly. Starting to use a new password every 90 days is a good practice.

Develop and Implement a Backup Strategy

One of the most reliable ways to protect your data from ransomware is backup. With backup, a copy of your data is stored separately, you can always restore your data. 

When planning your backup strategy, you obviously pay attention to the safety and reliability of the storage you use, as well as the ability to quickly restore your data in case of an emergency. 

For cloud backup, you need to carefully choose the backup providers and make sure you pay on your accounts on time. Regularly control the health and reputation of the provider you use. 

To save your time and ensure security, we recommend you to pay attention to cloud backup services. The features that make a good backup include:

  • Backup is automated.
  • Backup is frequent, ideally once a day or more often. 
  • The backup data is isolated from the data it protects.
  • You can configure the backup data retention.

With backup, you can secure your G Suite and Office 365 data from ransomware. Even in case of an attack, you have several versions of data to restore to the original form.

Office 365 Backup

G Suite Backup

Monitor and Control Applications

Usually, you catch malware via phishing emails or infected USB drives. However, there is another way: apps.  

Harmful apps statistic for 2019

How do you get ransomware via the apps

Ransom code can be contained in any app that you download. How does malware infect your computer through apps? There are two common ways.

  1. You download an app that is infected from the start. After certain predetermined conditions are met, ransom protocol activates.
  1. You download a safe app. You may use it for a long time, even years. But then the app becomes corrupted. With an update, ransom code is embedded into the app and you get infected.

The main trick here is that users give downloaded apps access to their data. Manually granting access bypasses any defense you get from antivirus software or firewalls. Thus, the best way to protect your system from ransomware-infected apps is to identify and blacklist them.

But how to determine if an app you use is infected? There are various techniques, like monitoring abnormal data usage. Identifying a risky app is extremely time-consuming if done manually. But don’t worry, we can do it for you with our advanced cybersecurity tools, based on machine-learning algorithms.

Structure Your Network

Many organizations have a clear understanding of job roles and who does what within their team, but only some manage computer user roles as attentively as required. 

You have to determine the users and the data access they have. It should be clear, who can write to a database or specific data set within your database, and how to temporarily acquire or surrender a role in the case when an employee gains new responsibilities – all these processes should be planned. Having a correct employee exit procedure is important as well. 

Moreover, for maximum transparency, safety and efficiency we recommend tracking as many user activities as possible. Having proper software can minimize the human factor and keep your corporate network safe even in case your employees fail to follow your cybersecurity guidelines.

If you are an Office 365 user, you may want to check more about roles and permissions in the Security and Compliance Center.

Enable 2-Step Verification

Two-factor verification (or 2FA) provides the second step of checking whether a user is authorized to enter. Ensure 2FA is installed and used to access data in your corporate network.

2FA may prove user identity in a number of different ways. For example, by generating a unique code by a special app like Google Authenticator. The code can be sent via a text message, email, etc. 

2FA requires both email and mobile phone to get access to an account. Having the second check on place dramatically decreases the risk of unauthorized access, and thus limits the ransomware attacks too. 

Set Up Antimalware Software 

Antimalware software (like antivirus or firewall) block many known types of ransomware, plus it can warn you about suspicious websites or patterns so that you can identify the new threats. It is very important that these pieces of software are officially purchased and professionally installed. 

The modern antivirus software is continuously improved and auto-updated on the background. You have a peace of mind knowing that the cybersecurity experts are working hard to protect your organization, and they are instantly reacting to any dangerous trends or attacks happening around the world, releasing new updates as quickly as possible.

Contrary to antivirus software, which requires a very small effort to set up, firewalls usually require some special knowledge. Firewalls may come as a piece of software or even hardware, which operates between the user device and the Internet. To put it simply, a firewall is a gatekeeper for the incoming traffic, which may contain a ransom code. 

Why Antivirus Software and Firewalls Are Not Completely Effective

Though being better than nothing, antivirus software and firewalls can not save you from ransomware. Even antivirus users can become victims of an attack. Why? The answer is simple: human error. That’s a user who gives permission to a risky app or clicks a suspicious link, initiating an attack.

Antivirus/firewall tries to detect an attack, but it may already be outdated. New ransomware families appear constantly and it requires time to study them and update the security software algorithms accordingly. In other words, it’s impossible by design to block 100% of dangerous apps and send 100% of phishing emails into spam. 

If an attack is not detected, a user is not notified about potential danger. An unaware user who may click a phishing link or download a corrupted app. And that’s how an attack begins.

But if antivirus software capabilities are limited, is there a solution? Let’s find out.

What Is the Best Ransomware Protection?

Overall, there is no 100% effective ransomware protection tool. However, it’s still possible to minimize the probability of ransomware infection. And here’s how.

1. Follow the basic cybersecurity practices:

  • Arrange cybersecurity training;
  • Create a strong password policy;
  • Limit access to business-critical data;
  • Plan a secure onboarding/exit for employees.

2. Back up your data.

You can protect your data with SpinOne backup solutions for G Suite and Office 365. We provide automated backup up to 3 times a day, securely stored in the cloud of your choice (AWS, GCP, Azure). Backup ensures that you can recover your data in case it was encrypted by ransomware. And you choose the version you need to roll back to.

3. Use ransomware prevention tools.

The best way to deal with ransomware is to prevent it. Our patented ransomware protection tools utilize machine learning algorithms to detect ransomware attack, block it, and restore the damaged files as soon as possible. 

SpinOne: Ransomware Prevention and Recovery Solutions for Office 365 and G Suite

SpinOne provides end-to-end ransomware protection solutions. SpinOne analyzes file behavior for any abnormalities. If a ransomware attack is detected, SpinOne blocks its source, prevents further encryption, and restores any damaged files from a safe backup.

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SpinOne protects your Office 365 and G Suite data from ransomware. Get SpinOne Free Trial now!

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