Best practices for IT teams to prevent ransomware attacks – Help Net Security

According to Check Point research, the number of organizations affected by ransomware has been growing at 9% monthly since the start of the year. From WannaCry, Petya, and SamSam to Ryuk, these ransomware attacks have caused huge financial and reputation losses for both public and private sector organizations – the recent attacks on Colonial Pipeline are just the latest example.

prevent ransomware

Organizations are in a tight spot to prevent these cyberattacks and safeguard what they have built over the years. While IT teams are already battling the challenges of securing remote endpoints in the changing work sphere, the rise in cyberattacks has added additional responsibilities on their shoulders.

Most of successful ransomware attacks happen because organizations overlook a simple security practice. For instance, Microsoft published the relevant patch three months before the WannaCry attack took place and had asked organizations to upgrade their operating systems. This cyberattack was due to negligent patching practices and brought about more than 4 billion dollars in financial loss across the globe.

Prevent ransomware following best practices

Putting the best IT security practices in place will enable organizations to prevent ransomware attacks like these and help IT teams combat security challenges:

Run regular IT asset scans and get a tight hold of your hardware and software inventory

Knowing the list of hardware and software available in your network is a crucial practice IT teams should follow. Continuous monitoring of IT assets will help you identify the malicious ones and blacklist them immediately. Having a loose hold on the IT asset inventory will not only create a setback on your management side but will also affect the security of your network.

Perform continuous vulnerability scans and identify the security loopholes

Having any active vulnerability prevalent in the network paves the way for serious security exploits. While periodical scans are no longer effective, running continuous scans and gaining complete visibility of your vulnerability exposure is recommended. Enabling automated vulnerability scans will ensure the process is running seamlessly.

Assess your vulnerability’s risk potential and prioritize smartly

Understanding the risk brought on by each of the vulnerabilities is critical in your vulnerability management process. With risk-based vulnerability management in place, you can prioritize the vulnerabilities based on your severity level and plan your remediation efforts wisely.

Patch vulnerabilities on time without leaving any security gaps

Identifying vulnerabilities is one part and remediating them on time with relevant patches takes your vulnerability management game to the next level. Without timely remediation, you keep the gates open for attackers to invade your network. An integrated vulnerability and patch management suite might do wonders in strengthening your organization’s security posture.

Check antivirus availability and ensure regular updates

Antivirus software acts as a security gatekeeper in each system, protects the network from viruses, and alerts any potential threats. It is also important that the antivirus software is updated on time to increase its effectiveness.

Monitor your endpoint activities closely

Endpoints are the major constituents of your IT infrastructure and the backbone of your business. Numerous activities occur within them every day and monitoring them continuously can help prevent security attacks.

Set strong application and device controls

Permitting the use of any application or device in your network might invite unnecessary security breaches. Implement strong application and device controls in your network and instantly block the applications, USBs, and peripheral devices posing any security threats.

Configure strong password management policies

Easy passwords are a cakewalk for intruders. Allowing guessable passwords on your endpoints might not only allow attacks from outside but also paves the way for insider attacks. Set a firm password policy that insists users change their password frequently and use characters and numbers in their system password.

Harden system configurations and abide by security compliance

Various industry compliance laws like HIPAA and PCI DSS mandate numerous security controls for organizations. These controls harden system configurations and prevent attacks by multiple folds. Ensure that you abide by these laws or create your own security policy and implement them across your network.

Detect indications of attacks and compromise (IoA & IoC) and respond immediately

A few endpoints in your network might be under attack or may exhibit certain traits of an ongoing attack. These indications of attacks and compromise (IoA & IoC) must be immediately detected in the network and acted upon to prevent serious security breaches.

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