5 Ways to Protect your Sensitive Data from Ransomware
June 17, 2017 | Deepak Balakrishna
Unless you have been cut off from the world on a lonely beach somewhere (and if so, I envy you!), by now you have been inundated with wall to wall coverage of the recent ransomware attacks, leaving your sensitive data to the privy of hackers.
The data breach has so far affected more than 150 countries and major businesses and organizations, including FedEx, Renault, and Britain’s National Health Service. And it looks like this is just the start – this spate of attacks is expected to get worse before it gets better.
Ransomware, malware, spear phishing, WannaCry, insider threat protection, database security and bitcoin payments have now entered the public consciousness. There is a heightened awareness of a problem those of us in the security and technology industry have been aware of and focused on since the past few years.
So what is a small or mid-sized company expected to do now when IT budgets are constantly under pressure and skilled IT resources are hard to come by?
We understand the challenges that come with protecting your sensitive data from malicious hackers.
Here are the 5 ways to protect your sensitive data from malicious insiders and ransomware:
1. Stay up to date on patches
In most cases, ransomware exploits vulnerabilities that have been found and patched by your OS vendor – in this most recent case with WannaCry, by Microsoft. The attackers were assuming (correctly) that most companies are too lax to keep their computers up to date and used a well-known vulnerability to initiate the attacks.
So get into the habit of keeping all your systems up to date with the most recent patch releases. Taking initiatives to prevent a data breach saves a lot of time in the longer run!
2. Backup! Backup! Backup!
Get into the habit of backing up all of your critical data. So in the case of an attack that renders your data encrypted and unusable, you can move to the clean, most recent backup and continue from there. (And of course, take steps to ensure that you are not a victim yet again!)
3. Educate your users
Ransomware attacks require some user activity to get initiated. It could be as simple as a user inside the company clicking on a malicious link in a well disguised and targeted email (see ‘spear phishing’) that downloads the malware and sets off a chain of events as it spreads laterally in the organization. Educate users on these attack vectors so they can be more aware of their online activity and only interact with trusted sites and users.
But even the best preventative steps frequently fall short with these well targeted and increasingly sophisticated attacks. It makes sense for a company to be proactive and prepare to limit the damage in case an attacker breaches your perimeter.
4. Set the right data access controls
At many companies, employees are given access to a lot more data than they need. It is not uncommon to see several files and folders that are open to everyone at an organization.
People move between groups, are “temporarily” given access to files and folders as part of a project and these privileges are never revoked. This increases the scope of the attack. If Bill, the office admin, fall prey to the attack, then the ransomware can spread laterally within the organization and affect all data that Bill has been granted access to.
So keep a close eye on access privileges and lock it down only to those people who need access. This will also be increasingly important for regulations such as GDPR and from NYDFS.
5. Early threat detection
Despite all your best efforts to block malware, if a user downloads and initiates malware, you should have the tools to detect it quickly and prevent the spread of malware to other users and devices.
You need tools that look at data access patterns in real time and detect and alert on ransomware so you can quickly quarantine the affected machines before they do more damage.
Look for SaaS security solutions that can connect to all your data sources – in the cloud or on-premises, manage all of the heavy lifting for you and gets you going in 30 minutes or less.
And of course, you need all of this in a tool that has little to no setup and is easy to manage and does not bust your budget.
It’s never too late to take control of your sensitive data with Adya, which also ensures that your company has better protection from ransomware while at the same time be in compliance with GDPR and similar regulations.
Adya is aimed at the mid-market with a SaaS solution that helps you detect where your most sensitive data is, set the right privileges so only the right users have access to it and alert in case of any suspected ransomware attacks and other malicious behavior.