Ransomware is a form of malware which in 2021 is on the rise. In 2020 ransomware attacks cost more than $20billion, with each incident costing an average of $8,100 which doesn’t include the cost of business downtime, lost revenue and potential fines and claims if the attack is viewed as a GDPR data breach.
No business is safe from ransomware – small or large organisations. The hackers are only interested in the money they can make, and the easier you make it for them to infiltrate your network the more likely you are to fall victim. Ransomware is essentially a piece of software that is installed on a machine which then encrypts all the data on that machine (or network) and then the hackers asks for a ransom, normally payable in bitcoin. Not everyone who pays the ransom has all their data decrypted.
What is the best protection against ransomware?
Prevention is much easier than trying to remove the ransomware once it has infiltrated a machine (or network) and there are a few easy steps you can take as an organisation to protect against it.
- Anti-malware and anti-ransomware software – This is the first step in the fight against ransomware; installing up-to-date software and ensuring it is updated and patched regularly.
- Software updates – Ensure that all software is updated regularly (not just antivirus). Vulnerabilities in the software, which the manufacturers send patches for, can be used as entranceways by the cybercriminals.
- Remove obsolete software – Any software that is old and no longer supported by the manufacturer should be deleted as these are often easy targets for cybercriminals when looking for vulnerabilities within your network.
- Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) – Only allow users access to programs and software required to do their jobs. Most malware runs on the privilege of the first machine they infect – so if this is an admin they will have more access across the network.
- Network segmentation – For large networks, divide it into smaller more manageable segments then should one part of the network get infected with ransomware it limits the attack surface.
- Back up regularly – It is essential to back up your systems and your data regularly and store it off-site. Ideally, data should be backed up daily, but weekly or monthly could work depending on the size and nature of your business. It’s also a good idea, once you have backed up, to disconnect the drive as ransomware could infect the backup drive too. With a regular backup should you be a victim to a ransomware attack you will be able to revert back to a backup pre-ransomware.
- Staff education – the weakest link in most cyber security programs are the users. Educate them on correct password protocol, phishing and smishing campaigns, and multi-factor authentication. A lot of ransomware is transmitted using ‘spear phishing’ through social media so ensuring there is a robust social media policy in place should also help prevent ransomware attacks.
Does antivirus protect against ransomware?
Ransomware is constantly evolving and becoming more difficult to detect. Antivirus and more specifically anti-ransomware will certainly prevent some ransomware from infiltrating your machine, but it won’t prevent all of them. But as new patches and updates come along, this protection will improve, and at the moment most anti-ransomware software doesn’t look for known threats (as these keep changing) but instead look for malicious behaviour.
Whilst antivirus software won’t stop all ransomware attacks it will certainly prevent more than not having the software at all.
What are the types of ransomware protection?
There are lots of options for ransomware protection and it is difficult to know which is the best anti-ransomware for business. Here is a list of the top six anti-ransomware protection software products on the market.
- Bitdefender – This offers anti-phishing protection, protection from known and unknown threats and is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and Apple. It has a robust firewall for safer internet use as well as password management tools.
- Check Point ZoneAlarm – This targets zero-day attacks, anti-phishing and anti-ransomware protection for both Windows and Mac. As well as preventing ransomware infections ZoneAlarm has the tools to help recover infected files.
- Kapersky – Offers real time notifications if an unknown app tries to access your camera or microphone as well as protecting against ransomware and viruses.
- Acronis – This product offers protection against zero-day threats as well as offering online backup options. It is an AI-based software which is able to learn from the behaviours displayed through the network.
- NeuShield Data Sentinel – This is particularly useful as a ransomware removal tool rather than focusing on detection and is what you need to prevent you from having to pay any ransom.
- Sophos Home Premium – This will protect your device from email spam, malware, phishing and of course ransomware. It can detect and remove any malicious software found within the system.
Here at CiS we are partnered with Sophos and can help protect your business against malware and ransomware attacks.
What are the benefits of ransomware protection?
Protecting your business from ransomware has a number of benefits that are pretty obvious and include protection of your data from loss, or encryption by third parties.
But there are more far-reaching benefits to using anti-ransomware software. These include:
- Protection from viruses in general and ransomware in particular.
- Protection from phishing attacks.
- Protection when using the internet.
- Prevents pop-up ads and other adware.
- Offers password protection.
- Regularly scans for viruses and ransomware.
- A quicker running machine.
With up to date anti-ransomware in place you are likely to have:
- Less downtime as threats will be picked up before they have time to wreak havoc through your IT systems.
- Real-time alerts and messages meaning you will always have up to date, real-time data on the security of your systems.
- File recovery options which is a tool to help recover infected files.
Here at CiS we offer a solid defence against malware and ransomware. This is essentially a protective software backed up by a qualified team of cyber security experts. You can get in touch today to learn more about our Anti- Ransomware protection and the cyber security services we can offer.