It’s the year 2022, and you wake up to find that your computer has been locked down by ransomware that’s demanding $100 in bitcoin to unlock it. As you scramble to find some cryptocurrency, you remember the many ways you protected yourself from such an attack in 2018—only it was called something else back then. Ransomware attacks aren’t new, but they’re growing in number and virulence, so it’s more important than ever to know how to prevent ransomware attacks. The best way to do this is to stay up-to-date on the latest cybercrime trends, so you can anticipate potential dangers before they have a chance to harm your data or your business. Here are some common ransomware attack methods you need to be aware of and steps you can take to guard against them in 2022 and beyond.
- Table of Content
- 01. Understand The Risks
- 02. Educate Your Staff
- 03. Use Endpoint Security Software to Protect Devices
- 04. Encrypt Sensitive Data Before it Reaches its Destination
- 05. Implement Network Security Controls and Segment
- 06. Use Secure S/MIME Email Encryption
- 07. Ransomware prevention checklist
- 08. Impact of Ransomware Attack
- 09. Ransomware Attack Solution
- 10. How Can Companies Prevent Ransomware?
01. Understand The Risks
When it comes to data security, ignorance isn’t bliss—it’s a disaster. Make sure you understand what ransomware is and how it works, as well as your company’s most vulnerable areas for attack. For example, if you deal with sensitive information on a daily basis, encrypting that data might be a good place to start. As with many things in life, knowledge is power; make sure you know what kind of vulnerabilities might lead to a ransomware attack before one occurs. You can also consider hiring an outside firm to do a vulnerability assessment and provide recommendations on where you should focus your efforts. If nothing else, taking proactive steps like these will show your customers that you take their safety seriously—and they’ll thank you for it by doing business with you.
02. Educate Your Staff
Make sure your employees are as aware of security and privacy best practices as possible. While it’s impossible to stay completely safe from all attacks, more informed employees can limit their exposure—and help you dodge a lot of malware. Even something as simple as advising them not to click on links in emails or messages could prevent your company from an attack that exposes thousands of records. No one likes being told what they can and cannot do online, but when it comes to preventing ransomware attacks, everyone needs reminding—especially if they’re new hires who might be too trusting.
03. Use Endpoint Security Software to Protect Devices
As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, companies are struggling to keep up with cyber security advancements. There are ways to keep data safe from external threats. New threats, such as ransomware attacks and database breaches, often come from outside threats, making perimeter security essential for cyber safety. In fact, many organizations can save on spending by installing software that prevents hackers and other external parties from getting into their systems. While some choose a centralized solution (like an antivirus program), others prefer more targeted software such as database protection or mobile device control that is used only on necessary devices. Both of these options work well with other forms of cybersecurity measures (firewalls and anti-malware) but they should be in place before you look at buying centralized security.
04. Encrypt Sensitive Data Before it Reaches its Destination
If you’re using a cloud storage service like Box or Dropbox, make sure you’re encrypting your data before it leaves your machine. While most services will give you an option for more secure encryption (look for private or enhanced settings), few users do so. The long-term solution here is better encryption technology that won’t slow down mobile devices, but until then make sure your files are properly protected while they’re out of your hands. You can also look into additional security measures such as two-factor authentication and tokenization (see below).
05. Implement Network Security Controls and Segment
It’s no secret that ransomware attacks are rising. But if you’re wondering what you can do to prevent such attacks, we have a few suggestions. By following these simple tips, your organization can be better protected from ransomware threats in 2022 and beyond. Here’s what you need to do (and yes, a lot of it involves paying attention). First, implement network security controls like firewalls and segmentation. This is an important step because segmentation helps protect against lateral movement within your network—which is one of many ways attackers can spread through your environment after successfully compromising one system. Second, ensure patch management processes are in place for all operating systems and applications—including third-party software. Third, ensure regular backups are performed so you have a way to recover data should it become encrypted by malware or other ransomware variants. And finally, educate employees on cybersecurity best practices—like avoiding suspicious emails or links altogether—to help reduce their risk exposure when they inevitably encounter malicious content online during their daily activities.
06. Use Secure S/MIME Email Encryption
Email is one of several ways cybercriminals can deliver ransomware. The easiest way to protect against that is simply to not open suspicious-looking emails, but it’s worth knowing about S/MIME email encryption—which can ensure that even if an attacker does find a way into your inbox, they won’t be able to read your encrypted messages. Apple Mail and Google’s Gmail both support S/MIME, but there are lots of other options out there (including free services like OpenKeychain). You can check out our guide on encrypting email using S/MIME for more information. If you want to use PGP instead, see our guide on how to send encrypted emails with PGP.
07. Ransomware prevention checklist
What should you do? How can you prevent future attacks? First, look at what type of attack took place. What malware did they use? If a virus encrypted your data, your immediate goal is not only getting it back but preventing a similar attack from taking place in the future. The first thing you need to do is disconnect all of your devices from any networks they’re currently connected to (wired or wireless). You don’t want any more data going out while working on getting your files back—just keep it all internal until everything is fixed. Next, create an image backup of your entire hard drive(s) and store it offsite. This way if anything happens again, you have a copy that isn’t affected by whatever is happening now. Once that’s done, install anti-virus software and run regular scans on every device with internet access to make sure there are no viruses hiding anywhere else. Finally, set up two-factor authentication for every account that supports it and consider using an external hard drive or other offline storage solution for important documents (like tax returns). These steps will help protect against ransomware attacks in 2022!
08. Impact of Ransomware Attack
One need look no further than last year’s headline-grabbing news about WannaCry and Petya, ransomware attacks that took down several hospitals and an airline, for proof of why organizations are looking for ways to prepare themselves for these threats. In 2017 alone, there were nearly $1 billion in damages from data breaches; that figure is projected to double by 2019 (1). With numbers like these, it’s clear that companies of all sizes must take preventive measures against hackers and other types of cybercriminals. The good news is that you can protect your organization from future attacks with a few simple steps. Here are some tips on how to prevent ransomware attacks in 2022.
09. Ransomware Attack Solution
Back up your files regularly. If a ransomware attack hits your computer and encrypts your data, there’s a good chance you’ll never get it back unless you have a backup. Even if it’s encrypted, don’t pay up; as of right now, paying ransoms doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get all of your data back, and there’s no reliable way to tell if criminals will actually unlock it. Instead, prepare for attacks by keeping current backups stored offline. (This is also useful if you lose an entire system.) Storing them on cloud services or external hard drives makes them more vulnerable to hackers anyway so keep them somewhere private—on one PC or device only—and ideally not on any computers at all. Ideally, you should be backing up constantly, but once a week should be enough to ensure that you won’t lose much. You can use free tools like CrashPlan or Carbonite for Windows users or Time Machine for Mac users. Or go with paid options like Backblaze ($5/month) or Carbonite ($60/year). The best part about these services is they’ll automatically sync new files every day and even back up open documents while they’re still open on your computer.
10. How Can Companies Prevent Ransomware?
According to a report by Cisco, within two years, 90% of businesses affected by ransomware will fail. But you don’t have to be one of them. There are several key steps you can take to make sure your business doesn’t fall victim. Here are four things you can do today that will help protect your data from cybercriminals and attacks later on down the line. Encrypt It The first step is encrypting all-important company data before it leaves your network. Encryption ensures no criminals can see your files if they’re stolen or accidentally leaked onto public networks, making it impossible for them to steal or alter information like usernames and passwords when launching a targeted attack.
Internet Protocol security (IPsec) uses encryption to secure communications over public networks while maintaining compatibility with existing network infrastructure software. You should already have IPsec enabled if you use any virtual private network (VPN) services; however, as more companies start using virtualization software—such as VMWare—for their day-to-day operations, IPsec may not be enabled by default on some of these new machines.