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What It Is And How To Recover From Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is one of the most common types of cyberattacks today and one of the most feared. Once downloaded onto a user’s device, the malware holds corporate data hostage, blocking users’ access or making data indecipherable through encryption until the organization pays a ransom to restore it.

In the last year, we have seen an increase in ransomware attacks, especially given the uncertainties generated by the coronavirus pandemic. Since 2020, organizations have had to make significant changes to their IT architectures to allow employees to work from home. Because of the speed with which they had to implement these changes, many were left with gaps in their systems that cybercriminals are only too eager to exploit. 

That way, it’s only a matter of time before your organization suffers a ransomware attempt. The most important question, therefore, is how to prevent and recover from an attack. And that’s precisely what we’ll talk about in today’s article!

What Is Ransomware, And How Does It Work?

Crypto-ransomware encrypts an organization’s data and demands a ransom for files to be decrypted and returned safely. Locker ransomware works the same way, except that it prevents users from accessing files instead of encrypting them before demanding a ransom for the data to be “unlocked.” 

In either case, the attacker demands payment, threatening to publish sensitive information or permanently remove data from the system if the victim fails to pay. But how does ransomware get to your system in the first place?

Well, it usually starts with a trojan. A trojan is a type of malware that tricks victims into thinking it is harmless by disguising itself as legitimate software. Trojans are mainly spread via spam emails. If the recipient opens the attached file or clicks on the URL, he unknowingly downloads the trojan, which has the power to steal confidential data. 

But attackers can also use it to spread other malware, such as TrickBot or Qubit. This second layer of malware extends laterally across the enterprise, stealing credentials, deploying backdoors, and, perhaps most importantly, attempting to access the domain controller. If they gain access to the domain controller, the attacker can deploy ransomware like Ryun, which encrypts the organization’s data and demands a ransom.

Some ransomware, however, does not require user interaction to spread. Worms such as Wanna Cry are a type of malware that replicates itself to invade a network through a breach in one of your systems without the need for anyone to continue transmitting it via malicious URLs or attachments.

How To Recover From Ransomware

As you can see, there are several ways that ransomware can enter your network. And while there is a lot of discussion about how to prevent ransomware from affecting your business, best practices for recovering from an attack are a little more challenging to define.

Below are some of the top tips:

Infection Detection

The most challenging step in recovering from a ransomware attack is realizing something is wrong. It is also one of the most crucial steps. The sooner you detect the ransomware attack; the less data will be affected. This directly impacts how long it will take to recover your environment.

Ransomware is designed to be very difficult to detect. Upon seeing the ransom note, it may have already caused damage to the entire environment. A cybersecurity solution that can identify unusual behavior, such as abnormal file sharing, can help quickly isolate a ransomware infection and stop it before it spreads further.

Damage Containment

After detecting an active infection, the ransomware process can be isolated and stopped from spreading further. If your environment is in the cloud, these attacks often result from a remote file sync or other process driven by a third-party application or browser plug-in executing the ransomware encryption process. 

Exploiting and isolating the source of the ransomware attack can contain the infection so that data damage is mitigated. This process must be automated to be effective, as many attacks happen after hours when administrators are not monitoring the environment. The reaction must be quick to stop the virus from spreading. 

Restoring The Affected Data

This requires good backups of your data to get back into production. Following the 3-2-1 backup best practice, having your backup data in a separate environment from production is critical.

  • Keep three copies of any important files, one primary and two backups;
  • Keep the file on two different media types;
  • Keep one copy off-site.

If your backups are from cloud SaaS environments, storing them “off-site” using a cloud-to-cloud backup provider aligns with this best practice. This will significantly minimize the chance that your backup data will be affected along with your production data.

Notification Of The Authorities

The General Data Protection Law (LGPD), the privacy regulation in effect in Brazil, requires organizations to promptly notify the National Data Protection Agency (ANPD) of any breach. Therefore, the next step is to communicate with the ANPD.

Access Testing

After the data is restored, test access to the data and any critical business systems affected to ensure the recovery was successful. This will allow any remaining issues to be fixed before returning the entire system to production.

Suppose you are experiencing slower-than-usual response times in your IT environment or larger-than-usual file sizes. In that case, it could signify that something is still hovering in your database or storage. A scan should then be done to identify the possible problem.

Also Read: Types Of Cybersecurity In Digital Marketing

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