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Ransomware has become a main source of stress for organizations globally. In 2021, ransomware attacks on government agencies globally increased by 1,885% over 2020 attacks, and the trends are continuing so far in 2022.
Major organizations like US oil provider Colonial Pipeline and the French defense organization Thales Group had operations halted by ransomware. Government institutions, like the Maryland Department of Health, have suffered increasingly sophisticated attacks, putting pressure on the Biden Administration to implement legislation to ensure organizations closely connected to government data are doing everything they can to prevent ransomware attacks targeting their network.
So what can your organization do to prevent ransomware attacks in a world of constantly evolving and maturing bad actors? Based on industry trends and cybersecurity best practices, here are three ways to prevent ransomware attacks.
3 Ways to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
1) Assess your current state
Many security leaders want to start implementing new defense strategies as soon as they obtain the budget and buy-in they need. The first part of successful ransomware defense is taking a step back and assessing the current state of defense your program is in.
Before spending money on ransomware defense tools and monitoring software, consider the following questions:
- Where do the greatest risks lie in your current network environment?
- How does your cybersecurity hygiene compare to your peers?
- Are you following certain industry or best-practice frameworks when managing your organization’s cybersecurity?
- Do you have visibility into your third parties, and if they have suffered ransomware attacks recently, or historically?
When you have a solid understanding of your current cybersecurity risks, and how you compare to similar organizations and industry frameworks, you can better prioritize ransomware defense efforts to have the highest impact. Utilize frameworks like the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) framework to assess your program against a baseline to determine where to start directing attention.
2) Focus on cybersecurity hygiene where it matters the most
When you have a complete view of your current cybersecurity footprint, the next step to preventing ransomware attacks is to focus on strengthening your program where ransomware threats are most likely to take place.
If you were a ransomware sleuth, you’d probably want access to company payroll information, or employee PII that could be used in a triple extortion attack. Maybe for organizations with high demand goods, like hospitals or oil and gas providers, their most high-stakes operations would be prime targets. Ensuring your network is secure is important even if your organization falls outside the realm of common targets, because ransomware targeting any of your vendor networks can easily make their way into your connected databases.
What are some cybersecurity hygiene practices you can start focusing on? Bitsight data has revealed a proven indication between patching cadence and likelihood of a ransomware attack. By working to patch flagged vulnerabilities quickly, even if larger, underlying remediation strategies haven’t been developed yet, security teams are keeping up with the risk targeting their network.
Of course, overall security hygiene strategies are important in preventing ransomware attacks, including using a vulnerability alert system, routine employee cybersecurity training, endpoint data scanning tools, pre-planned remediation strategies, and more.
3) Don’t be passive
The third best practice for preventing ransomware attacks is to take a proactive risk management strategy, instead of a wait-and-react approach. By the time your security team is actually alerted to an attack, maybe by a publicly announced ransomware breach, or multiple employees reporting phishing emails, there could be more damage done throughout your network, gone unnoticed for weeks, months, or even years.
Don’t wait for ransomware attackers to make themselves known. Utilize a continuous monitoring tool to maintain daily visibility into your network endpoints, and identify changes in your risk portfolio as soon as they even begin to happen. Effective continuous monitoring technology also provides an overall view of network trends so you can identify concerning points that might not stand out if your team were to see them on any one given day.
Bitsight Security Performance Management offering relies on objective continuous monitoring technology to give security teams an outside-in perspective on their network, giving you the view of your network that ransomware attackers can see.
Defend Against Ransomware with Security Ratings
It might feel impossible to prevent a ransomware attack targeting even your well-protected and well-funded security program. With the right data and industry-leading cybersecurity technology, security and risk management teams can take impactful steps towards better ransomware defense.
To learn more about Bitsight Security Ratings, and how security teams are relying on them to defend against growing ransomware threats, download our ransomware eBook.