Your employee clicks on a sketchy mail and opens the attachment file unknowingly, out of curiosity, the next thing you know, all your files are locked and inaccessible. The ransomware which started from that mail has now spread through your entire server, locking you out of all your important files. A ransom message shows up on your screen, it demands payment in the form of cryptocurrency. It feels like after you make the payment, they will return your files, but is there any guarantee to that? Ransomware is malware that has only ever evolved in the threat category and there is no surety of anything. So, many after receiving the payment, the attackers can just publish your locked personal files on the Internet.
Is not better to prevent a ransomware attack rather than having to decide whether to pay the ransom in exchange for your locked files?
We all have heard the idiom, “Prevention is better than cure” and that applies to all situations in life, not just the medical ones. There are a number of factors that can leave you vulnerable to ransomware attacks, viz;
In addition to these factors, this article will also discuss the other factors to look out for and how to prevent and protect against ransomware.
The victims of ransomware usually range between individuals and small to medium-sized businesses. Ransomware is not an absolute threat that cannot be avoided, but like any other cyberattack, it can also be prevented.
Let’s talk a walk through the prevention methods you can opt to protect your server from ransomware attacks:
Keep yourself informed on the number and kind of hardware as well software assets that are connected to your network. Keeping a list of the same can help you keep track of what needs to be updated or replaced with a modern version.
Show File Extensions is a useful extension which informs you what kind of file it is that you might be clicking on anywhere on the Internet. It helps identify file type like .gif, .jpeg, .exe, .docx, .pdf, etc.
Use extensions of security services that scan archived or compressed .zip files before you click them.
There are various ways to filter through emails. You can add certain keywords and if a mail contains that certain keyword, the email will go straight to your spam folder. Some technologies you can use are; Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).
Patching and updating your software regularly plays a key role against ransomware attacks because software gets constantly updated to fight against cyber and other kinds of virus attacks. Delaying a software update is like knowing a threat is coming but keeping your guard down. Get cybersecurity for your business.
Software Restriction Policies are trust policies that enable organizations to manage the process of running applications on computers. It enables you to designate where certain apps are and are not allowed to run.
Every year the list of malicious Tor IP addresses gets updated, it is only wise to not just go through the list but also blocking them from your servers to avoid any contact.
There are a number of antivirus applications and services which perform regular scans to identify malware and take required action against them.
Using a third-party backup service like a Cloud service can help keep your network segmented to keep your backups away from the main system. Ransomware has been known to infect backups too so keeping it segmented can avoid losing your backup files to an attack.
1. Disable web: If you feel like you have clicked on a sketchy mail/file attachment/link, turn off the web connection to your computer at once. This can come in handy when the ransomware attack is in its early stage and can help prevent spreading to your server.
2. Disable file sharing: Disabling file sharing can prevent the malware from transferring from one unit to the other to infect your whole server.
3. Disable Windows Script Host: Some malicious actors use.VBS files (VBScript) to run ransomware on an infected computer. Disabling Windows Script Host can prevent ransomware from spreading.
4. Do not provide personal information: While contacting back the attackers, avoid conveying any kind of personal information. Be sure to report suspicious calls to your IT services.
5. Do not pay the ransom: Paying the ransom may feel like the solution but there is only a fifty-fifty chance that it might work. There is a hundred percent chance of encouraging the attackers, however. Check online for decryption tools.6. Restore backup files: any impacted files from a known good backup. Restoration of your files from a backup is the fastest way to regain access to your data.
Ransomware attacks in healthcare are not only dangerous but also extremely costly. According to Bitdefender, there had been an increase in attacks against hospitals by 60% between February and March of 2020, whereas Recorded Future reported that at least 26 healthcare providers were hit with ransomware attacks between January and May of 2020. The numbers are only ever-rising with so many variants in technology and the evolution of malware.
1. Educate users:
Human errors are the reasons behind one-third of healthcare data breaches. Holding repeated and regular sessions to educate your users about software updates, patches, firewalls, antivirus software, etc can help prevent human errors to an extent.
2. Follow IT rules:
Using your data system in compliance with IT rules can protect you from leaving a vulnerable side open to ransomware threats. Maintaining HIPAA compliance in addition to following an IT security framework can help to ensure that your systems are as secure as possible. It can also help in threat management and provide you with various resources to navigate through a cyberattack.
3. Regular data backups:
Backups are the key to protect your patient files and details from ransomware attacks as well as a reliable bookkeeping method in case you lose your files due to other reasons.
4. Adopt AI and ML anti-fraud solutions:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can track real-time data and alert you in case of suspicious emails, unsafe links, compressed files, etcetera. These technologies can also help data protection, insurance scam detection, data analysis, drug accounting, and other essential tasks for any healthcare system.
5. Consider insurance:
There are insurance policies available that are designed to cover cybersecurity risks as well. It is not a preventive measure, more of a protective measure but with the rise of ransomware attacks against healthcare systems, insurance coverage can provide peace of mind. In the event of an attack, it can also help you get in contact with security industry experts who can aid you in what you can do next to minimize your loss.
6. Assess your risk
With the constant evolution of ransomware, it is wise to consult IT staff to perform regular assessments to cover your vulnerabilities.
In case you are under attack of ransomware, then get in touch with IT staff or consultants who will help you access your risk and can also help you to decrypt your files, or recover backups.
From the information provided throughout this article, it is fair to conclude that regardless of what your organization deals with or the kind of business you have, the preventive measures are the same. The preventive measures can be considered universal and applicable to all.
Let’s have a quick look at the Ransomware Prevention Checklist which has been compiled from the measures provided above.