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January 09, 2017

Tips for Fighting Against Ransomware

By Special Guest
Gunjan Tripathi, Digital Marketing Executive, Cheap SSL Shop

Most business activities are now fully dependent on network and server connections. Large data pertaining to the business should be secured at every stage, whether it is on the server or on the hard drives of the organization. Hackers are now able to make money by blocking access to secured data from the organization’s personnel using ransomware attacks. The hackers demand money from the organization for access to their own secured information from the server. In this type of attack, the hacker is safe and will likely not get caught for the illegal act.

Ransomware and its Success Stories:

Ransomware is malware that is downloaded to the computer without the user’s knowledge. This malware comes in the form of a program termed as MAAS (Malware as a Service). The hackers distribute this program by using various forms like a word file, javascript, etc. This program gets downloaded when an employee clicks a malicious email that is found in their inbox. The email will look professional and the name of the file will also look relevant to the company’s activities. The employee clicks the download link without knowing the danger the organization has to face after this downloaded action. This file gets installed once downloaded without the knowledge of the employee, and it performs unexpected actions to the company's systems, such as:

  • Gets the individual public key to access the server with the help of this employee’s computer.
  • Encrypts all the files located on the local disk as well as on the server.
  • Erases all the backup files and also attacks the operating system of the computer.
  • Immediately displays on the screen the ransom amount to be paid in order to decrypt all the files related to the organization.

The malware is programmed in such a way that the data can only be decrypted when a hacker wants to, and they usually only do so after receiving the ransom amount. Here, the hacking can be done via email. Another method of ransomware attack is targeting websites. The hackers use an exploit kit to spoil the security of the website. When the individual users browse the website, the program automatically starts downloading to their computer without their acknowledge. The hackers always target popular websites where the security is more generic.

Ransomware attacks are successful because of:

  • The employee’s lack of awareness about the security level in the organization.
  • A weak firewall, antivirus, etc. The overall security level of data may also be generic thanks to a lack of strong encryption tools.
  • Backups of data were not maintained properly in the organization.

Permission to access particular data should be predefined and only the authorized person should be able to access data.

Effectively Training Employees:

This type of attack is made possible because of employee flaws. Thus, training employees about security is the only solution to get rid of this type of attack. An effective  security awareness program can help businesses stay away from  unwanted downage caused by employees.  Every individual should be aware of these attacks to safeguard data. The organization should also take steps to inculcate personal responsibility to each and every employee to avoid such attacks. The company should provide a checklist to all employees to verify all the security software in their system they work on. Every system in the organization should be automated for updating security software in a routine manner. Training the employees not only saves the organization from hackers but also helps the individuals protect themselves from such hacking activities.

The organization should train employees to follow the steps below to increase the security level of data.

  • Train employees to backup their files regularly.
  • Make them aware about the security features which are built into the software they work with often.
  • Instruct them not to enable macro documents, as it can be harmful.
  • Request that they keep their login credentials secure.
  • Conduct training programs regularly for employees about recent attacks and discuss the measures to be followed immediately in those cases.
  • Train them to use Microsoft (News - Alert) Office Wiewer, which enables them to look at a file before actually opening it.
  • Create awareness regarding the files that could pertain to the organization. If they encounter a malicious file, then they should ignore it. If they open a link they’re unfamiliar with, and it turns out to be malicious, all the computers connected to the server will be at risk.

Steps to Protect against Ransomware Attacks:

  • Use Crypto guard technology to safeguard against the modification of data. The server will immediately sense the ransomware and prevent it from encrypting files. Moreover, it alerts the computer user quickly, before the data can be hacked.
  • Anti spam technology can be implemented in order to get rid of unnecessary emails entering the employee’s inbox.
  • Cloud sandboxing protects the Web gateway from being infected by these types of malware.
  • Server whitelisting and the lockdown method can be adopted in order to protect the server from malicious activities.
  • Updating the firewall and antivirus periodically enables a high level of security.
  • Effective training must be given to the employee in order to utilize the above discussed technology efficiently.

In Conclusion…

Ransomware attacks are a major threat to businesses, as they deplete data quickly. This problem has led to the search for alternative security measures in order to protect the data. Organizations can prepare by deploying the proper tools to protect the server from malicious activities. Employees should also be educated about any and all advanced technology in order to overcome the hacker’s activities. Taking precautionary steps is the only solution to get rid of these types of attacks.

About the Author

Gunjan Tripathi is the Digital Marketing Executive of the Cheap SSL Shop – Globally SSL certificate reseller of Comodo. He has in-depth knowledge and an understanding of cybersecurity. He writes articles related to Big Data Protection, Cloud Security, BYOB Security, Internet Of Things (IOT), Mobile Security etc. to create awareness and share knowledge.




Edited by Alicia Young
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