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How to Avoid a Ransomware Attack

Cyberattacks can happen at any time. In fact, if you have scanned the headlines lately, you have probably read news about yet another company being hit with a ransom demand. The recent incidents have impacted our already-strained supply chains and infrastructure entities, taking their toll on people and companies around the world.

Although the media likely mentions big businesses being affected, we must realize that organizations of all types and sizes can be the target of cyber hackers. What about your company? Is it prepared to prevent such an attack?

Preventative Steps

In June 2021, the White House published an open letter to U.S. business leaders and executives, urging them to take the necessary steps to protect their companies and customers from criminal cyberattacks. The letter stated that business leaders should perceive these ransomware incidents “as a threat to their core business operations rather than a simple risk of data theft.”

The letter referred to the cybersecurity best practices outlined in the presidential executive order  “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” along with other recommendations. Your company can follow these key steps to stay safe:

  • Employ a skilled security team to monitor your network security and offer training for your staff, so your employees know how to spot malicious malware.
  • Enlist a third-party penetration tester to regularly review your system’s security and pinpoint any weak areas.
  • Use multifactor authentication on all your systems since passwords can often be guessed or compromised in some other way.
  • Encrypt all your data, so if anything is stolen, the thief will be unable to use it.
  • Back up all your data, system images, and configurations, and ensure that the backups are regularly tested and kept offline.
  • Set up a schedule to update your systems often, and apply any necessary patches right away.
  • Incorporate endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools to detect and block any malicious activity on your network.
  • Prepare for a hypothetical attack by creating a ransomware incidence response plan. Test it frequently. Also, determine what systems your company can operate without and for how long.
  • Separate your corporate IT network from your operational network. That way, if one is compromised, the other is still able to function.

Added Scrutiny

In addition to offering companies advice, the letter urged companies to do their part in keeping their networks safe. It explained: “The U.S. Government is working with countries around the world to hold ransomware actors and the countries who harbor them accountable, but we cannot fight the threat posed by ransomware alone. The private sector has a distinct and key responsibility. The federal government stands ready to help you implement these best practices.”

Given these guidelines, companies can expect heightened scrutiny if they fall victim to a ransomware attack but neglected to take basic precautions. Additionally, if businesses choose not to implement the recommendations, they will need to explain why they were deemed unnecessary for their specific operations.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.