An ounce of ransomware prevention is worth a pound of cure—especially when the “cure” includes paying for forensics, legal fees, fines and penalties, data recovery, and more.

Ransomware preparedness is crucial for businesses of every size, from small startups to multinational corporations. Case in point: Electronics giant Foxconn was hit with a $34 million ransom over Thanksgiving when ransomware attackers stole unencrypted files and then encrypted devices.

If ransomware operators were able to infiltrate a facility belonging to the world’s largest electronics manufacturing company, imagine the havoc they could wreak on smaller, less secure enterprises.

It is tempting to shrug and say, “If a corporation with almost endless security resources can’t protect its data, what chance do we have?” But please don’t. It is possible to implement an effective ransomware prevention strategy if you approach it proactively and holistically.

Here are seven tips for securing your data against ransomware attacks that will minimize time spent firefighting and maximize peace of mind.

1. Use the Cloud

The cloud is an excellent resource for protecting business-critical data in general, not just from ransomware attacks.

Cloud-based solutions such as secure backup, cybersecurity tools, and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) are scalable, reliable, and accessible from anywhere. The cloud lets you keep a copy of your data separate from the company network so it’s inaccessible during a security breach. Cloud backup services also make it easy to restore your systems, applications, and data quickly after any type of disaster.

2. Create a Pro-Cybersecurity Culture

Human error is a leading point of entry for many successful cyberattacks. Whether it’s careless clicking, unsafe surfing, or poor password management, when a breach occurs, you can frequently trace it back to an employee.

For your cybersecurity strategy to be effective, IT must address the people problem. This includes targeted education campaigns for on-site and remote employees, establishing (and enforcing) strict social media policies, and automated reporting for suspicious activity/emails/attachments.

3. Prioritize Patch Management

Staying current on patches and security updates is critical to maintaining a secure perimeter. Establish an aggressive patch management policy for updating endpoints, operating systems, and applications, and ensure it becomes part of the standard maintenance process.

Unfortunately, many organizations don’t have the IT resources to stay on top of updates, so wherever possible, automate patch management so it doesn’t slip through the cracks.

4. Require Application Whitelisting

Today’s employees have a lot of distractions, which, as mentioned above, makes them a weak point in your organization’s security perimeter.

Put an extra layer of protection between employees and your network by preventing unknown files from executing until tested and proven safe and by monitoring third-party apps for corruption.

5. Restrict Access Privileges

Too many cooks in the kitchen can burn the whole place down. Likewise, it can be problematic to give every admin full access to every file, application, and database.

Restricting access using the principle of least privilege, a zero trust framework, and privileged access management tools means you always have visibility into who has access to what, why they have that access, and what they do when accessing sensitive data and mission-critical applications.

6. Have a Disaster Recovery/Crisis Response Plan Ready to Roll

The middle of a crisis is the absolute worst time to try to make major decisions. Plan now for how you will respond in the event of a ransomware attack, natural disaster, or other unplanned disruption.

At a minimum, your plan should include:

  • A fully trained disaster response team: This group will spearhead recovery efforts and be the point of contact for the company.
  • A defined technical response: Business operations are at a standstill until critical IT systems are back online.
  • An audience-specific communications response plan: Different stakeholders need different levels of information. Be sure you control the messaging.
  • Full data recovery capabilities: How much data can your business afford to lose permanently?

7. Invest in a Fully Integrated Cybersecurity and Ransomware Protection Solution

Fight ransomware at the source with a comprehensive technology strategy that protects all of your organization’s workloads, whether on-premises or in the cloud.

For example, Arcserve offers solutions that allow you to neutralize an attack before it starts by deploying advanced threat detection for known and unknown strains powered by Sophos Intercept X Advanced. With signature-based and signatureless malware detection, a deep learning neural network, anti-exploit technology, CryptoGuard anti-ransomware, and WipeGuard technologies, your data is protected from the widest possible range of threats.

When you implement an integrated cybersecurity and data loss prevention solution, you get the added protection of immutable backups across your entire infrastructure with support for cloud, local, virtual, hyperconverged, and SaaS-based workloads.

Security experts are predicting another active year for ransomware attacks. Download A Ransomware Crisis Plan is Now a Business Imperative to ensure your organization is future-proofed against the new ransomware strains and tactics we are likely to encounter in 2021.

Download "A Ransomware Crisis Plan is Now a Business Imperative"