How To Deal With A Ransomware Attack

How To Deal With A Ransomware Attack

A ransomware attack is one of the most serious threats facing online users today. This article examines what happens during a ransomware attack and outlines the steps you should take to secure your organization afterward.

Coping with a Ransomware Attack

Ransomware poses a significant threat to organizations, as 90% of attacks severely disrupt operations, with recovery taking about a month on average. As these attacks become more frequent, it's crucial to understand how they work and how to respond. Predictions suggest that by 2031, a ransomware attack will occur every other second, compared to every 11 seconds in 2021.

Understanding Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts an organization’s data, rendering it inaccessible. Cybercriminals demand a ransom and in return, they promise to provide the decryption keys. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that paying the ransom will restore access, and data can still be exposed or sold, even if the ransom is paid.

No industry is immune to ransomware, but attackers often target organizations with limited security resources or those rich in sensitive data. They typically look for companies that rely heavily on continuous data access, like legal firms or government agencies.

Common ways hackers gain access to systems include phishing (tricking users into clicking malicious links), remote access (exploiting open ports), compromising privileged accounts, and exploiting known software vulnerabilities. Additionally, some attackers use 'double extortion', where they threaten to leak sensitive data if the ransom isn't paid promptly.

What to Do When Attacked

If you're hit by ransomware, the first step is to isolate the affected device to prevent the malware from spreading. Disconnect network cables, USBs, and wireless connections to contain the threat. In the chaos following an attack, stay calm and follow a predetermined plan of action, ideally practiced through simulations.

Key steps to take include:

  • Centralised Communication: Establish a single point of contact for all communication to avoid misinformation. Advise against speaking to the media or posting on social media until a public relations strategy is in place.
  • Identify the Ransomware: Use malware scanning tools or your organization's Security Operations Centre to identify the type of ransomware. Note any relevant information, such as the attack time, affected files, and suspicious programs.
  • Paying the Ransom: Experts advise against paying the ransom. Research shows that even if you pay, you might not get your data back, and there's a high risk that stolen data will still be exposed.
  • Removing Ransomware: Removing ransomware often requires a complete factory reset of the infected device, risking data loss. Professional help is recommended to safely clean the systems and restore operations.
  • Data Recovery: Regular backups are the best defense against ransomware. Follow the '3-2-1 rule': keep three copies of your data, in two different locations, with one offline. Before restoring data, ensure it’s malware-free.

Reporting and Prevention

Once you've stabilised the situation, report the ransomware attack to relevant authorities like the NCSC in the U.K. This helps agencies track and combat ransomware threats and provides valuable information to prevent future attacks.

To protect against future ransomware attacks, reinforce good security practices among your employees:

  • Keep software and devices updated, with automatic updates enabled.
  • Use multi-factor authentication to secure accounts.
  • Regularly back up data and test recovery processes.
  • Limit who has access to sensitive data and devices.
  • Implement ransomware protection software.

By following these steps, you can mitigate the risks of ransomware and respond effectively if an attack occurs.

If a malware attack happens to you, don’t hesitate to contact Fields Data Recovery for a quick and reliable data recovery service. Call us now on 0800 083 7891.