A SWAT team breaking down doors. Helicopters circling overhead. Hostage situations are serious business, but they don’t always play out like in the movies. What about ransomware response — when the threat is digital, the victim is data, and your organization’s operations hang in the balance?
Ransomware is THE cybersecurity headline for 2023 (and 2022 and 2021 and…). With attack frequency at 2 per second and attack surfaces expanding rapidly, it’s no wonder ransomware is the anxiety-inducing star of every CISO’s nightmares.
In a classic ransomware attack, malicious actors encrypt a certain amount of data and hold it for “ransom,” demanding money for its release. The information is always sensitive and usually disruptive, so that organizations have no choice but to pay to restore their functionality.
But CISOs beware: the returned data is often corrupted beyond repair, and most organizations end up restoring the stolen information via backups (more on that later). The saving grace of the backup highlights your best line of defense against ransomware—preventative care. Cybercriminals will balk at organizations with solid security, Zero Trust systems, and a cyber-educative curriculum that keeps your employees up to date on how to respond in the worst case scenario.
If cyber criminals can be as skilled as IT experts but with exceedingly devious agendas, what should you do to respond to a ransomware disaster? Read on for BAI Security’s tips on how to keep your cool in crisis mode.
Keeping Cool When Ransomware Strikes
Step one: Don’t panic. It may seem obvious, but ransomware negotiator Drew Schmitt explains that psychology is a major component of ransomware attacks. According to Schmitt, while urgency is key, the process will benefit enormously from a calm and level-headed approach.
Next, it’s important to trace the origins of the ransomware attack. This data will be important for future prevention, but it may also help you to determine what data is at risk, how high-priority it is, and what steps you can take to cut off access to the rest of your server, if any.
Once you’ve figured out where the alarm bells are coming from, you should know how to proceed. Above all, don’t pay the ransom. Paying up will enable the criminals you’re dealing with, exacerbate the costs involved in the aftermath, and you may not even get your data back.
So how do you recover the information lost in a ransomware attack? In a report on the state of ransomware in 2020, cloud security provider Sophos noted that 56% of organizations attacked recovered their data with server backups. This ensures that you won’t be dealing with previously corrupted or encrypted data, and you can work on a clean, malware-free slate while your team scrubs the ransomware from your systems.
Which brings us to our next step: excising the ransomware from your systems. Though it can be tempting to recruit an expert to go through your servers with a fine-toothed comb, ransomware can lurk in the most unexpected places, and repeat attacks are frequent.
Get serious about cyber defense.
In the best case, you’ll want to wipe your storage and reinstall everything anew. This may seem like a big response to a comparatively small incident, but taking these precautions can be the difference between your first/last ransomware attack or the first of many.
Once it’s time to restore your data, you’ll have multiple options depending on your organization’s approach to data protection and security. The cloud is an increasingly popular option, and entities with a more physical approach to security may have an off-site backup on a different server.
Worried about reclaiming your data in its most recent iteration? You may want to consider continuous data protection (CDP). In a system, CDP takes a “snapshot” of data whenever it’s modified, so a backup contains the newest copy of every datum at any given point in time. This way, your organization won’t have to work off an outdated backup even during recovery.
The most important thing, experts say, is to learn from the experience. Ransomware is frightening and often disorienting, but the more you know about how it specifically affects your organization, the more you can do to prevent it and shut cybercriminals down before they can get started.
Prepare To Prevent
Security policies and plans are important, and our Ransomware Best Practice Evaluation will examine yours for the prevention of ransomware attacks, as well as your organization’s ability to rapidly react and swiftly recover from such incidents.
But real-world technical preparation also has a distinct place in today’s defense strategies.
- Provide real-world testing in a fully controlled and RISK-FREE exercise
- Validate endpoint protection systems
- Determine the effectiveness of zero-day threat protection
- Assess the detection and alerts capabilities of your monitoring systems
- Evaluate the capabilities of your Incident Management Team
Stay ahead of ransomware and other aggressive cyberthreats — contact us today to get started!