by Tim Mullahy, General Manager at Liberty Center One
Ransomware is on the rise. Rather than targeting enterprises and users to steal their personal data, criminals are increasingly taking an alternative approach: holding that data for ransom and turning a profit that way, instead. It’s much easier than trying to sell sensitive documents on the black markets – and as an added bonus, it’s much more difficult to trace, too.
Hospitals are being hit especially hard, with one facility forced to pay $17,000 in bitcoins in order to regain access to critical patient records and medical data. And while organizations in regulated industries are at greater risk of being struck by a ransomware attack, it’s foolish to think that anyone might be immune. If you don’t proactively protect yourself, you might well end up caught unawares, extorted just to keep your business running.
Let’s talk about a few measures you can take to prevent that from happening.
Block Ads, Secure Emails.
Like it or not, advertisements – along with email – are one of the chief delivery vessels of malware. And since publishers can’t really be trusted to properly police their ad networks, it falls to you to protect your employees from them. Ad blockers should come standard on every corporate device, and you should, by default, be taking measures such as file encryption and digitally-signed emails.
Depending on what type of ransomware you’re being targeted with, it may require administrative permissions – so disabling those permissions on standard user accounts could provide you with an additional line of defense. It’s a minor thing, and it probably won’t protect you from all kinds of ransomware. Still, the more measures you take to secure yourself, the better.
Isolate Your Backups.
If malware can’t access your backups, it can’t encrypt them – and if you’ve backups that are kept separate from your enterprise systems, that pretty much defeats the purpose of a ransomware attack. You can simply wipe your infected systems, grab the backups, and proceed with business as usual.
Monitor File Activity.
A sure sign that you might be falling prey to a ransomware attack is the presence of rapid, unusual rewrites or abnormal traffic on your network. It’s important that you keep a close eye on your systems for exactly this reason – because the sooner you notice something is amiss, the sooner you can take action to mitigate an attack.
Patch Your Systems.
This is something you should be doing by default regardless, but…keep all systems, tools, and applications up to date. Never delay installation of a security patch. That’s just asking for trouble.
Tim Mullahy is the General Manager at Liberty Center One. Liberty Center One is a new breed of data center located in Royal Oak, MI. Liberty can host any customer solution regardless of space, power, or networking/bandwidth requirements.