How to prevent ransomware and minimise risks of an attack

How to prevent ransomware

Ransomware attacks have increased dramatically over recent years, so much so that the 2022 cost of attacks is estimated to top US$20 billion globally.  

Ransomware can cause widespread damage, but at the same time, they can be entirely preventable. The willingness to invest in even the most basic cybersecurity measures will not only protect valuable assets but could save organisations millions at the same time. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to prevent ransomware and minimise the risks of an attack. 

Key ransomware statistics 

DataProt has highlighted key ransomware statistics that drive home the importance of secure cybersecurity measures: 

  • One in three ransomware attacks in 2020 was conducted by the Sodinokibi ransomware family. Schools and universities are the primary targets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • There will be a ransomware attack every 11 seconds by 2022. By that time, the global cost will be $20 billion yearly. 
  • Today, businesses suffer ransomware attacks every 40 seconds. 
  • Phishing emails are the cause of two-thirds of ransomware infections. 
  • Every year, ransomware generates an estimated $1 billion in revenue for cybercriminals. 
  • About 9% of the American population has been a victim of a ransomware attack at some point. 

How to prevent ransomware attacks 

With the stats mentioned above in mind, there’s no doubt that an organisation with a solid cybersecurity foundation will be far less vulnerable to attacks than its competitors. Let’s take a look at the top six ransomware prevention best practices which will bolster your organisation’s defences and prevent it from becoming a victim of a ransomware attack. 

  1. Defence-in-depth security 

Maintaining a defence-in-depth security program is key to preventing a ransomware attack. Ransomware is a type of malware which can easily be detected by active antimalware controls. Some antimalware programs also provide anti-ransomware features which offer superior defence mechanisms. Defence-in-depth security programs that run strong antimalware in conjunction with other processes and technologies are paramount. Here are some of them: 

  • Firewalls 
  • Network traffic analysis 
  • Endpoint scanning and filtering 
  • Intrusion detection systems 
  • Web filtering 
  • Email security filtering 
  • Allowlisting/denylisting 

Following the principle of least privilege, using VPNs or other perimeter security technologies for remote employees, requiring multifactor authentication, disabling or limiting Remote Desktop Protocol use, and protecting ports from exploitation are some of the other key areas to consider when building a strategy on how to prevent ransomware.   

  1. Advanced protection technologies 

Most ransomware attacks can be stopped by antimalware defences. However, the risk remains within novel attacks. To detect zero-day attacks, consider advanced technologies, such as these, to help bolster security: 

  • Sandboxing 
  • Endpoint detection and response 
  • Zero-trust security and network access 
  • Behaviour analysis technologies 
  • Deception technology 
  1. Educate employees 

When answering the question “How to prevent ransomware attacks”, educating employees about the risks of social engineering is essential to building internal defences. Actions by employees can inadvertently allow ransomware onto the network or system. This can include a phishing attack, downloading or opening an infected attachment, or clicking a malicious URL. Educating staff and providing them with cybersecurity awareness training will reduce the risks. Here are some of the top measures to consider:  

  • Verify email senders 
  • Use strong passwords 
  • Only open links and attachments from known sources 
  • Do not click on unverified links or download suspicious-looking attachments 
  • Develop a ransomware incident response plan for the entire company 
  1. Regular patches 

Installing patches for software and system vulnerabilities on a regular basis could have saved many organisations a lot of time, money, and stress. Follow a patch management program to ensure any vulnerabilities are patched quickly and effectively. 

  1. Backup critical data 

Backing up data can mitigate risk by providing you with a backup plan. If ransomware encrypts critical data, a backup can restore access quickly without the need to meet the hacker’s demands. 

  1. More than backups 

Malicious actors are now using double extortion methods to not only steal data but also exfiltrate it. This means that even if a company has a backup of the data, it can still be held to ransom to prevent the data from being leaked. Therefore, ensuring your organisation knows how to prevent ransomware and adopts a defence-in-depth strategy is key. 

What the experts say on how to prevent ransomware 

“Far too many organisations are letting their guard down when it comes to their attack surface but only realise it after the damage has been done. The key to preventing ransomware attacks is to ensure they actively manage their attack surface and have strong security awareness within the business,” says RiskXchange CEO Darren Craig. “Not only will they help you minimise risk but improve the overall security posture at the same time.” 

Darren Craig, RiskXchange CEO

Let’s take a look at what RiskXchange has to offer: 

RiskXchange’s attack surface management is one of the best solutions to ransomware. The platform continuously monitors for vulnerabilities and instantly notifies of any known vulnerabilities (including ransomware). You can reduce your organisation’s cyber risk by monitoring, tracking and mitigating risk across your entire attack surface at all times. Here are the key features:  

  • Continuous attack surface management 
  • Asset inventory 
  • Real-time alerts 
  • Complete visibility 
  • Security automation 
  • Trace your digital footprint 
  • Extensive data sources 

Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about how to prevent ransomware and minimise the risks of an attack.