Ransomware, software designed to block access to your computer system until a sum of money is paid, has become a significant threat in the digital world. Sounds like it couldn’t happen to you. Well, to grasp the severity of the ransomware threat, let’s look at some recent statistics and reports:
- A report from Malwarebytes reveals a startling increase in ransomware attacks, with 1,900 incidents recorded in just four countries (the US, Germany, France, and the UK).
- TechTarget reports that 2022 was a breakout year for ransomware. This trend will most likely continue even in 2023.
- The 2023 ThreatLabz State of Ransomware Report, as covered by IT PRO, notes a 37% increase in ransomware attacks in 2023. The same report also highlights that the average enterprise ransom payment exceeded $100,000, with a staggering average demand of $5.3 million.
The above statistics inform you clearly about the escalating ransomware threat to your organization. The purpose of this guide however is to not just inform you about ransomware effects and severity. Instead, it will inform you about how to mitigate risks and ensure data integrity.
Understanding Ransomware and Its Mechanisms
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to your computer system or the data stored on it. Typically, attackers gain access to your system through deceptive emails or by exploiting security vulnerabilities. Once the malware gets into your systems, it will encrypt the data stored on your system. The attackers will then demand a ransom, usually in cryptocurrency, in exchange for restoring your access to your computer or data.
What’s concerning is that the ransomware attacks have evolved to such an extent that even your ransomware backup systems are not safe. It is important for your organizations to enhance and update your backup strategies. As you will move forward in this guide, you will learn about these strategies.
Common Ransomware Types
What’s troubling is that new ransomware strains are emerging rapidly. In fact, there’s a notable rise in global ransomware attacks. As of 2023, here are some key types of ransomware that impact storage and backup systems:
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- Crypto Ransomware: This type of ransomware encrypts valuable files on a computer or network.
- Locker Ransomware: It locks you out of your operating system, making it impossible to access the desktop and any apps or files.
- Doxware or Leakware: Another common type of ransomware, attackers threaten to publish sensitive data on the internet unless you pay the demanded amount.
- RaaS (Ransomware as a Service): In this type of attacks, affiliates are given access to already-developed ransomware tools. And in return, they share a portion of the ransom they collect with the tool developers.
Ransomware Attack Methods
- Phishing Emails: One of the most common methods of inflicting your system. Usually, the attackers send you an email that looks totally legit — maybe even from a company you know. But it is actually a trap. These phishing emails trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment that’s packed with malware.
- Exploiting Security Vulnerabilities: Your software may be like a fortress. However, there are hidden weak spots that you might not know about. And attackers are well-equipped to find these vulnerabilities and sneak into your system.
- Drive-by Downloading: Sometimes even browsing the internet can also be devastating. For instance, if you land on a website that is not safe and you click on an infected website. That’s how the malware sees its chance and downloads itself onto your computer, and you may not even have a clue.
- Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) Attacks: RDP is like a backdoor into your network. If your RDP credentials are weak or someone’s stolen them, the attackers can use this backdoor and get into your system.
Ransomware’s Impact on Storage Systems
- Compromised Data Integrity: Ransomware encrypts your data and will make it unreadable. This means you can’t access important files and documents.
- System Accessibility Issues: Ransomware will lock you out of your own storage systems. This will halt all your operations, and you and your staff can’t access critical data.
- Long-Term Storage Vulnerabilities: Ransomware are designed to exploit weak security in storage systems. Without regular updates and checks, your data will always be at risk of being hijacked.
Ransomware and Backup Systems
- Backup Corruption: Ransomware attacks have become so advanced that even your backups are not protected at all. These attacks, especially one without protection, do not stop at just your systems. But they also affect any backups that have been made by you as a safety net.
- Challenges in Backup Recovery: The attackers usually leave some malware in the attacked data or system. So, even when you are trying to restore from a backup, the backups will become corrupt too.
- Backup Strategy Weaknesses: Note that not regularly testing your backups or not having an offline backup are the things that cause the most problems. Anything that is linked to your systems and is online mostly can be affected. So, it is best to have a foolproof strategy in place.
Strategies for Ransomware-Resilient Storage
1. Enhanced Security Measures for Storage Systems
Regular Software Updates
It is important to keep your storage system’s software up to date — it is the regular updates that come with patches for security vulnerabilities and any known ransomware couldn’t exploit them.
Advanced Threat Protection
Advanced Threat Protection systems come with sophisticated algorithms that can detect and neutralize the ransomware and will not cause any harm to your data in such cases.
Ensure to limit who can access your storage systems. For this, use strong authentication methods and do not give access to employees that do not need it.
Ensure to divide your network into smaller segments. So, even if ransomware were to infect one segment, it is less likely to spread to other systems.
2. Importance of Regular, Secure Backups
- Frequent Backups: Ensure to regularly back up your data.
- Offsite and Offline Backups: You can store backups in a different location from your main data. Additionally, keep offline backups that aren’t connected to your network.
- Test Your Backups: This is the most important and often the most ignored by organizations that have strict ransomware strategies in place. They do not regularly test your backups to ensure they work.
The threat posed by ransomware is not static, it is continuously evolving and becoming more sophisticated.