Imagine you’re running your small business. Everything’s going well. Business is booming and everyone’s happy. You assume all your business information is safe and secure—all your data, files, invoices, receipts, everything you need to keep your operation running. You probably know about hackers and viruses, but you might think they only go after big companies with tons of money. Sadly, you’d be wrong.
Now imagine one day you get to the office and everything is locked down. You can’t log in into computers or software, your systems are down, your data is gone, and you have a ransom note demanding an exorbitant sum of money. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. You’re now a victim of ransomware, and your business and your livelihood are in danger of collapse. You are now the victim of a ransomware cyberattack.
Simply put, ransomware is a type of malicious software (aka computer viruses) that can infiltrate your network and access all of your files, data and hold it hostage. With ransomware, hackers can either lock everything down, or destroy it entirely—unless you pay a huge ransom. In any case, it’s a horrible position to be in.
How does a ransomware attack work?
Most ransomware attacks come via email attachments. Hackers will use social engineering to obtain relevant information and email addresses. Then they attach a file or provide a website link infected with ransomware to an email and send it out. They can send the email en masse to a whole company, or use targeted phishing techniques to get the most important emails.
Once the ransomware file is installed, it will go to work and find its way into your network and then to your servers, where all of your data and electronic records are digitally stored. When they get there, hackers will either lock the files down, making them inaccessible to anyone but themselves, or they will just delete everything if they’re feeling particularly evil.
Once they have control, hackers will demand a huge ransom while threatening to destroy your business data. They say they’ll release the your files once you pay the ransom, but that’s sadly not usually the case. More often, they’ll demand more and more money, or they’ll destroy everything once you’ve paid up anyway.
Ransomware-readiness threat assessment
How do you keep yourself from ransomware? A fantastic start would be with a ransomware threat assessment. Like it sounds, a comprehensive threat assessment will go over every aspect of your office network software and hardware and assess everything for any threat vulnerabilities. So what are the steps for a threat assessment? Let’s check it out:
Identify Assets and Data:
- Identify and catalog critical assets, including servers, workstations, databases, and sensitive data.
- Prioritize assets based on their importance to business operations.
Assess Current Security & Access Controls:
- Evaluate existing security measures, including firewalls, antivirus solutions, intrusion detection systems, and email security.
- Identify any vulnerabilities or gaps in the current security posture.
- Assess user access permissions to critical systems and data.
- Ensure the principle of least privilege is followed, and unnecessary access is restricted.
Analyze Network & Endpoint Security:
- Review network architecture and configurations.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of network segmentation in preventing lateral movement by attackers.
- Assess the security measures on endpoints (computers, laptops, etc.).
- Ensure that endpoint protection solutions are up-to-date and configured correctly.
Evaluate Email Security:
- Assess the effectiveness of email security measures, focusing on filtering out phishing attempts and malicious attachments.
- Consider implementing advanced threat protection for emails.
Review Backup and Recovery Processes:
- Evaluate the organization’s backup and recovery processes.
- Ensure that backups are regularly performed, and recovery processes are tested.
Perform Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing:
- Conduct regular vulnerability assessments to identify and address weaknesses in the infrastructure.
- Perform penetration testing to simulate real-world attack scenarios.
Conduct User Awareness Training:
- Assess the level of cybersecurity awareness among employees.
- Identify areas where additional training may be needed to reduce the risk of phishing and social engineering attacks.
Assess Incident Response Plan:
- Review the organization’s incident response plan.
- Ensure that the plan includes specific steps for responding to a ransomware attack, including communication, containment, eradication, recovery, and lessons learned.
Evaluate Vendor Security:
- If applicable, assess the security posture of third-party vendors and service providers.
- Ensure that vendors follow best practices for securing their systems and data.
Develop an Action Plan:
- Based on the findings, develop a prioritized action plan.
- Allocate resources and timelines for implementing security improvements.
Regularly Update and Reassess:
- Cyber threats evolve, so it’s crucial to regularly update the threat assessment.
- Reassess security measures and adapt the action plan based on emerging threats and changes in the organization’s infrastructure.
DID YOU KNOW
- 46% of SMBs have experienced a ransomware attack at some point
- 20% of SMBs have reported a ransomware attack in the last 12 months
- 38% of those victims paid the ransom, but most never recover their data
- 88%–96% of ransomware and other hacking attempts are caused by human error
- Email phishing and social engineering tactics are the most common methods to obtain login credentials
- 92% of malware (ransomware and other viruses) are delivered via email attachments or links
- The average ransom in 2023 was $1.53M, almost double from $812k in 2022
Get a ransomware-readiness threat assessment ASAP
Everything we’ve covered here should inspire you to make sure ready for ransomware at all times. With a comprehensive threat assessment, you’ll get detailed information on all vulnerabilities, how to patch them, and how to keep everything secured moving forward.
MAXtech knows security. It’s a part of everything we do every day. With our assessment, you can be sure you’re in good hands. You have nothing to lose with a ransomware assessment; you have everything to lose if you become a ransomware victim.