The recent ransomware attacks affecting the United States and the world present a challenge in the fight against cyberattacks.
What is the Technology Solution to Ransomware
Both the government and private sectors have made attempts at ramping up defenses, but there’s still more that needs to be done. The attack on the Colonial Pipeline and the JBS meatpacking operations are representations of the growing cybercrime industry. It’s also an indication that hackers have exponential potential to inflict pain and make profits by crippling crucial networks.
A Growing Menace
As though this is not enough, hackers also recently made hacking attempts at hospitals, a ferry system, and insurers in the United States and globally. Many of these incidents were attributed to Russia-based hackers working with the least tactic approval from the Kremlin.
In 2020, an amount not less than $18 billion was paid as ransomware to attackers, according to the security firm Emsisoft. Ransomware has become an epidemic affecting tens of thousands of companies. Being casual about it will not help the situation, says Frank Cilluffo, director of Auburn University’s McCrary Institute.
Parham Eftekhari, chairman of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, notes that a rush to digitizing more systems has opened up more avenues for hackers. In his view, there is the prioritization of speed to market, profit, functionality, and business objectives over cybersecurity. However, he also notes that US officials are putting more effort into ransomware prevention, which is a top priority for all businesses.
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We also sought to find out what cybersecurity experts think about the issue. What can companies do to protect themselves against ransomware? Is there a technology solution that can be termed the best and most effective solution to this pertinent problem?
Cybercrime Compares to Terrorism
According to Blake Schwank, CEO, Colorado Computer Support, ransomware compares to the 911 attack. The question to ask ourselves is whether there is a technology solution to ransomware, yet there is no solution to terrorism. The answer would be to approach the issue from multiple fronts, and just like in dealing with terrorism, the approaches have to be correct. Unfortunately, terrorism still exists in the world, and the United States is under threat.
That’s why security experts want to protect the country from multiple, various directions. In the same way, stakeholders must approach cybersecurity from different ends. Since attackers come from the outside, firewalls would help keep the hackers out.
Schwank continues to note that having a detection and response strategy in place is also crucial. This will help in the management of threat response.
The Importance of Backups
If all that fails, and since nobody can guarantee 100% success, businesses need a way to recover. This is where robust backup systems come in to save the day. If backups systems are to help the situation, they should not be stored in the exact location as the primary data storage.
In dealing with terrorism, the government works hard to ensure continuity and keeps security personnel in separate locations. This is the same thing businesses should do for their data. If it disappears, they want to be sure that they can put it back in place. This is usually a demanding process, but it helps in strengthening businesses against ransomware. If a system is attacked by ransomware, backup technologies detect a ransomware infection and send an alert to the system administrators. This way, they can prepare themselves to restore all the files to the latest versions.
Large corporations and governments face the risk of data breaches. Therefore, it’s only crucial that everyone does their part to protect themselves and the country’s infrastructure.
Prevention is the Best Cure
Carl Fransen, Founder, and CEO, CTECH Consulting Group, believes that prevention is the best cure. It’s the leading technology that can stop malware before it finds its way to a company’s systems. Fransen continues to say that the security industry is aware of the multiple ways that ransomware penetrates a business. It can protect users when they are browsing the internet, opening attachments, receiving emails, or visiting online accounts. Having a service like this in place is an excellent start since hackers are constantly finding new ways of bypassing various protections.
The best prevention method is not at all technical. It’s all about user training to make them aware of what they click or open while on the internet. The end-user is the weakest link to potential cyberattacks. Ongoing education, training, and testing are a must. Such is available from IT service companies to help businesses of all sizes to access high-quality training for their staff.
Nick Allo, Director at Semtech IT Solutions, also feels that it all boils down to preventive measures. Unfortunately, companies tend to be reactive instead of proactive. He advises companies that don’t want to be in the headlines to get a plan to help them harden their security. The best way to go about this is to involve a 3rd party to perform a risk assessment and take the necessary action. Companies must also continuously perform disaster testing to see if the solution in place is working.
A Layered Approach to Security
Troy Drever, President, Pure IT, and Bryan Badger, CEO, Integral Networks, both agree that no single technology serves as a solution to ransomware. However, by combining several solutions in critical areas, companies can nearly make ransomware a non-issue. If something happens even after making significant reductions to the potential risk, backup systems that address the issue are vital.
Multi-factor authentication is another critical defense used to protect corporate systems from hackers. This security measure is very affordable for all sizes of organizations.
Given that the work-from-home revolution has played a significant role in creating a security risk for companies, using a DNS filtering system is advisable. It protects end-users who are not behind the corporate firewall from ending up on the wrong website where they can easily be compromised.
Lastly, corporations should consider using Managed Threat Response as a security measure. It’s no longer enough to deploy anti-virus and anti-malware systems. A more reliable approach is to use managed threat response systems, which Security Operations Centers monitor constantly. These are highly skilled and trained teams in threat hunting and remediation in corporate environments. Small organizations that cannot afford their own security team can outsource that function to a managed services provider at an affordable cost.
Cybersecurity is an ongoing concern for governments, large corporations, and small businesses alike. The recent ransomware attacks are proof that hackers are working around the clock to compromise data. In the same way, security experts must not relent in putting up measures that protect users.
Is your business in need of a lasting cybersecurity solution and ongoing security monitoring? It is high time you considered partnering with a managed services provider. This way, you can be at peace knowing that your systems are in the hands of an expert.
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