Ransomware Attacks: How Prepared Are You?

RansomWare is a type of malicious software (malware) when infected with encrypts all the important files such as documents, pictures, movie file etc with a virtually unbreakable encryption key. [RM1] The RansomWare arrives via email attachments, insecure downloads,  use of outdated browser's, or through Trojans such as Zeus etc. Once executed the malware usually reaches out to its Command & Control server over an internet connection to get the encryption key. The encryption is almost always asymmetric and impossible to crack. The malware is also able to encrypt locally mapped network drives/ cloud storage drives. The main motive of the attacker is to extort money from the victim in return of the private key for decryption. The attacker usually leaves a message  in encrypted folders  instructing users to pay ransom in Bitcoins or via Moneypak. In most of the cases even paying ransom does not work quite well for the victim as the private key fails to decrypt some of the important documents especially those in mapped drive and locally mapped cloud storage drives. There are RansomWare developed  specifically for mobile platforms as well, and have affected thousands of mobile devices worldwide.

Some of the well known RansomWare are CryptoLocker, Cyrptowall, Teslacrypt, Torrentlocker and CTB locker. Frequently attackers release new variants of Ransomware by tweaking and subtly changing lines of codes in most popular ones to avoid detection.  According to various research works, India ranks 3rd in the Asia and 9th worldwide among the countries affected by Malware attacks. The most affected being Banking and Pharmaceuticals sectors. A research team at Malwarebytes has identified LeChiffre, whose name means "encryption" in French, which caused millions of dollars of damages after infecting several banks and pharmaceuticals company. According to The Economic times, some companies have paid ransoms in millions of dollars after such attacks.

( Read More: 5 Major Types Of Hardware Attacks You Need To Know )

Here are some of the tips that you can put to use to prevent yourself from getting into such situations:

1. Back up your important data at regular intervals

This is the most logical preventive measure that your organization  can adopt to thwart any such attacks. Make sure that your Backup solution is up and running as it should. Keep in mind that the back-up should be kept in a separate external drive. If you are using automated backup solution then make sure that your backup drives are connected only during the backup process and are disconnected from the network once the process is complete.

2. Develop robust vulnerability management and Patch management Program

Vulnerable applications, software's are some of the attack vectors for the attackers. Remember to keep your operating systems, browsers, plug-ins used by your browsers, java and other software's are up to date with the latest patches installed. The best way to accomplish this is by developing robust vulnerability management and patch management program, use of automated vulnerability detection tools and patch management solutions and making sure that the all the patches are installed in a timely manner can ensure you of better protection against such attacks

3. Fine tune your systems and security solutions to a more secure configuration

Fine tuning your security solutions and systems can give you a great deal of protection against RansomWare attacks. Tweak your anti-spam solution to filter out mails with executable attachments, tweak your IPS and firewall to block any malicious traffic, disable remote access services on systems if not required, deactivate auto-play for devices, disable unused network adapters (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc.), Do not map network drives & cloud storage folders to your local system only if not necessary, configuresystems to show hidden file extensions, block unauthorized USB access, uninstall application that you don't use  etc.

( Read More: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Evaluating Security Information & Event Management (SIEM) Solution )

4. Use a good Endpoint security solution to detect any malicious code

A good advance Anti-malware software can help you identify malicious code and possible malware attacks. keep your security software up-to-date with the latest version and malware database. It is also a good idea to run windows firewall or any other host firewall software on your system to detect any unauthorized attempt to connect to internet by any malicious code.

5. Educate your employees & colleagues

Educate your employees of the safe Internet browsing practices such as not to double click any suspicious links, not to run any suspicious program on their system and not to install any unverified browser plug-ins. Employees should also be educated about social engineered attacks, verifying mail attachments before downloading or opening it etc.





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