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By Rohith Nair

The cyber threat landscape is continuously changing, and growing in complexity and numbers. Ransomware is a top cyber threat that every business must contain. To accomplish this requires a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. 

A lack of cohesive protective technologies, procedures, processes and user awareness, will lead to unintended consequences. If your company should fall victim to a ransomware attack, the last thing you should do is panic, and the first is to seek help from security experts to minimize damage.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is malware that employs encryption to hold a victim’s information ransom. A user or organization’s data is encrypted so they can’t access files, databases or applications. A ransom is then demanded to “recover” their data. Ransomware often spreads across a network, targeting database and file servers, to quickly paralyze an organization. It’s a fast-growing threat that generates billions of dollars in payments to cybercriminals and inflicts significant damage and costs for businesses and government agencies.

Ransomware by the numbers

Ransomware attacks continue to proliferate unabated, with 97% of phishing emails delivering ransomware. Ransomware inflicts pain on businesses that don’t have proper protections in place, and don’t educate their users. More than 70% of infected companies have paid between $10,000 – $40,000. Even worse, 42% of those who paid the ransom, never recovered their data. 

Beyond the cost associated with a ransomware breach, companies can lose intellectual property and sensitive information. They can have reputational damage if customers no longer trust their ability to protect personal data. And if customer data is unrecovered, companies can face stiff regulatory fines.

Simeio tips to keep your company safe from ransomware:

  • Isolate the breached device from the network to avoid spreading
  • Backup data to a shared drive; Backing up data will minimize damage by providing access to those records elsewhere 
  • Keep laptops, desktops, and antivirus up to date
  • Use virus and/or malware scanning software to inform you of potential threats before they’re opened
  • Practice safe surfing
  • Only use safe and secure networks
  • Eliminate threats from personal devices by creating a BYOD policy 
  • Provide employee training, as they are your front line of defense 
  • Employees should only have access to resources they need to complete their daily tasks
  • Inform your Information Security Team and IT Administration Team immediately in case of a breach.

How to respond in the event of a ransomware attack

Panicking and reacting too quickly to a breach can cause you to make costly mistakes. You should assemble a task force to limit potential damage, and come up with a detailed plan on how to handle the breach.

Trace where the breach originated, so you can deal with the attack consequences. Once you’ve determined where it originated, it’s crucial that you contain it. If the breach spreads to other areas of your organization, it will be more difficult to control. There are several ways to effectively contain a security breach. Changing all user passwords, disabling access to the network, and deleting sensitive information, are just a few actions you can take.

Some breaches are more damaging than others. Knowing how serious a breach is will determine your next steps. To determine the breach extent, identify those affected. If your customer’s data was involved, determine how it might be used against them. If you think you might be sued, immediately assemble your legal team. 

If sensitive information was stolen, it’s important to notify the victims. If their personal information, like bank information or credit card numbers, have been exposed, inform them right away. You should also notify the financial institutions, so they can be on alert for any unusual activity.

Preventing future breaches

If security breaches become continuing events, consider changing course. The first thing you should do to prevent future attacks is remedy whatever caused the initial breach. Speak with a security consultant to understand what kind of protection you need, and get a security system that is more reliable and trustworthy, so you have less to worry about in the future.

Don’t be surprised when the experts tell you, the hodgepodge of legacy systems, on-premise solutions from multiple vendors and cloud-based components, are a cause of the breach. This is typical of companies with legacy systems that have become too expensive, and complex to effectively monitor and manage. 

This is where well-designed and implemented security solutions pay huge dividends. Foremost in this effort is integrating multiple, disparate IAM tools and applications into a single platform with a single, unified interface to view everything. This enables seamless access governance, identity and risk management, predictive analytics, system, and technology integration and more. 

This is where Simeio shines, with our Identity and Access Management (IAM) platform that coalesces numerous disparate systems, and provides a single view across your entire IAM environment with easy-to-use dashboards and workflows. To combat the ever-growing cyber threats, I encourage you to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Simeio can work with you to implement a strategy. Check out our services to learn how we can help you.