When it comes to ransomware attacks there are a few things we as businesses and consumers can do to secure ourselves. Most malicious threats are based on opportunity, the easier the opportunity the more likely it will be exploited by a malicious actor. So it is important to understand that maintaining good security standards practice and awareness is good enough to deter most would-be attackers. Cyber security is a holistic security process, utilizing multiple tools and best practices offers the best chance to prevent a security breach and/or a ransomware situation. We will discuss a few standard practices and measures you can take to secure yourself.
Best security practices and habits
Businesses, organizations and individuals should first begin with a threat analysis in order to grasp and understand what they want to protect and secure. Performing a threat analysis will help greatly smoothen the planning phase for businesses. For individuals, this will aid in deciding the necessary actions that can be taken immediately.
During the planning phase for businesses, system administrators and IT teams should develop, draft, and share standard practices and policies for the organization. Ideally the plan should include defined roles and communications in the event an attack occurs, as well as a list of vendor contacts that may be needed to be called on for assistance. Policies should also be drafted and shared throughout the organization that contain “suspicious email” policies and “awareness” policies. This will help train employees on what to do if they receive a strange email, and can be as simple as forwarding the email to the IT team.
Further best practices that may be implemented both as an organization wide policy and as an individual are as follows:
- Be aware and never click on unsafe links as they may lead to automatic malicious downloads.
- Avoid disclosing personal information to anyone you do not know, including on social media. Making your birthdate public, or answering those “fun” quizzes on social media may be used for phishing and spear phishing.
- Pay close attention to emails, check the sender carefully. Avoid opening attachments you are not expecting. If a known sender has sent you an email with an attachment you are not expecting for example, verify directly with them over a call for example.
- Never use a USB drive that you do not personally own on any of your devices. Malicious attacks can be automated and deployed within seconds through USB storage devices. Have an organization wide policy to prevent exploitation.
- Use only trusted and known sources if you are downloading anything. Utilizing unverified sources heightens the risks of download malware.
- Consider using a VPN at public wi-fi access points, or avoid connecting to a public wi-fi. These access points are commonly scanned and are often vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.
In this article we discussed best practices and good habits to keep in mind. Understanding the utility of a proper threat analysis in order to prepare a good plan for the organization and for us as individuals. We also deliberated on the importance of maintaining awareness, and implementing this into policies on an organizational level. In part 2 of this series, we will discuss direct security measures and ways to limit the impacts of ransomware.