10 Fundamentals for Protecting Yourself from Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are now common, disrupting business operations and costing thousands of dollars in losses. As an Managed Service Provider (MSP), we protect your business from ransomware by understanding the threat and by having the right technologies, policies, people, and processes in place to counter this insidious attack. Here are 10 best practices to consider for protecting yourself and your clients from ransomware.

  1. Understand the Threat: Crypto ransomware works by encrypting certain, sensitive files types and then forcing the victim to pay a ransom to gain access to a decryption key for the data. With nearly all types of crypto ransomware it’s virtually impossible to recover data without paying for the decryption key. Sometimes even paying the ransom won’t decrypt the files. We ensure that your infrastructure is adequately secured – it’s essential you have the technologies and policies in place to protect yourselves.
  2. Educate Staff: It takes one bad decision by a user to unleash a costly ransomware attack. Ransomware is often delivered as a Trojan, through malvertising, or through a phishing email. Prevention isn’t possible 100% of the time, but in many cases attacks can still be stopped if users are educated about what to look for.
  3. Teach Staff Not to Phish: The Webroot® 2016 Threat Brief showed that up to 50% of users will fall for a phishing attack in 2016. The key is to teach users to not open emails from unknown senders with attachments or links – and how to spot suspicious emails even when they look like they’re from known senders. Instruct users on spotting expressions or greetings the sender wouldn’t normally use as clues to something “phishy.” If all else fails, real-time anti-phishing protection can often block even zero-day phishing attacks.
  4. Maintain Layers of Anti-Ransomware Technology: Reliable, cloud-based antimalware can prevent nearly all ransomware attacks, but it’s important to remember that new delivery vectors are being released constantly, so no endpoint security solution alone will offer you 100% protection. Additional security layers like firewalls, Windows OS policy restrictions, and having proper back-ups in place will all help to secure your environment.
  5. Patching and Plug-Ins: Keeping applications like Adobe Reader, Java, and other plugins up to date greatly reduces security vulnerabilities and prevents browser and application vulnerabilities that may bypass your antimalware defenses. Ad and pop-up blockers also greatly reduce user error, stopping users from inadvertently clicking fake dialogs that download ransomware.
  6. Use Windows Policies to Block VSS: Blocking access to Volume Shadow Copy Service will help stop ransomware like CryptoLocker from trying to erase file backups. By creating a blocking policy for the VSSAdmin executable, any attempt to access or stop the service will result in the action being blocked.
  7. Disable Windows Script Hosting: VBS scripts are used by malware authors either to cause disruption in an environment or to run a process that will download more advanced malware. You can disable them completely by disabling the Windows Script Host engine which is used by .VBS files to run. case of a ransomware attack, they might lose data on every mapped drive.
  8. Filter .EXE Files in Email Servers: If your customers’ email gateways have the ability to filter files by extension, you should consider denying emails sent with .EXE files, or denying emails sent with files that have two file extensions, the last one being an executable (“*.*.EXE” files). This is a common threat vector for crypto ransomware.
  9. Always Have a Back Up: Nothing is more effective at mitigating a crypto ransomware attack than being able to instantly restore data from business continuity backups. We cannot overemphasize the importance of backups to our clients. Without a backup you might lose data on every mapped and even unmapped drive. Ransomware such as CryptoLocker can even encrypt networked drives. Having online backups that are offlsite with multiple copies of each file makes it virtually impossible for extortionists to infect backup data.
  10. Utilize Avrom Systems for your network management! It’s our job to stay current on ransomware and keep up with ransomware developments so that you can concentrate on your job. Ransomware, like all malware, will continue to evolve. As a Managed Service Provider, we monitor this evolution: which strains are most dangerous and who is being targeted. The more informed we are, the better we can protect you!


Adapted from Webroot Smarter Cybersecurity bulliten

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