How to recover from a ransomware attack?

Throughout 2021 and into 2022, ransomware was a major news topic. You may have heard tales of assaults on significant businesses, organizations, or governmental bodies, or you may have personally been the victim of a ransomware attack on your device. According to a study conducted between January and February 2021, ransomware attacks affected around 37% of enterprises worldwide.

Having all of your files and data kept hostage until you pay is a serious issue and a terrifying thought. Today we discuss how to recover from a ransomware attack in case you have already fallen prey to one.  

Ransomware: Overview, Definition, & Examples

Ransomware is malicious software that locks your computer or files and demands a ransom to unlock them. Ransomware can be installed through phishing emails, fake ads, or software downloaded from untrustworthy websites. Once installed, the ransomware may encrypt all your files, preventing you from using them.

Unlike other viruses or malware, ransomware isn’t interested in stealing or selling data on the dark web. It only exists to extort money from its victims by holding their information hostage until they receive their desired payment in exchange for its release.

Latest Ransomware Attack Example: Kaseya – July 2021

In July 2021, Kaseya had one of the most significant ransomware assaults in recent memory. By infecting around 50 managed service providers utilizing Kaseya’s products, the attack against the IT company spread to 1,500 organizations.

Kaseya refused to pay the infamous REvil group’s $70 million demand to repair the damage. Although a third-party security company created a universal decryption key to stop the attack, Homeland Security was still interested in it because of its sheer size. Less than two weeks later, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released ransomware rules.

Ways To Prevent a Ransomware Attack

How to Avoid a Ransomware Attack?

First of all, your main goal should be protection against ransomware. Here are some ways that might help in avoiding ransomware attacks:

  • A secure backup solution.
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date with the latest virus definitions.
  • Make sure you control your systems and data using a managed service provider (MSP).
  • Train your IT staff on security best practices to ensure they are aware of the latest threats and how to avoid them.
  • Consider investing in secure web gateways, email security solutions, and other endpoint protection software to protect against malware infections at all stages of the attack lifecycle (prevent, detect, block).
  • Use email authentication methods like DMARC

How Does DMARC Help?

DMARC is short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. It’s designed to detect and prevent spoofing through domain alignment.

DMARC uses SPF and DKIM authentication standards to detect malicious IP addresses, forgeries, and domain impersonations.

If you’re using DMARC, when an email fails authentication (because it looks like it was sent by someone other than the sender), it’s classified as spam and dropped before it reaches your inbox. 

While sending email, if you have set up DMARC with an enforced DMARC policy mode (p=reject/quarantine), emails that fail it will either be rejected or designated as spam, reducing the likelihood that your recipients may fall victim to a ransomware assault.

This protects your company’s reputation, sensitive data, and financial resources.

How to Recover from a Ransomware Attack?

To get out of the mess, you must know how to recover from a ransomware attack. Let’s have a look at quick strategies:

Step #1: Don’t Panic

There’s no need to panic if you get hit by ransomware. While ransomware can be damaging, recovering from an attack is not always impossible. If the files are backed up and no legal issues are involved — for example, if you’re not using pirated software — then the road to recovery may be pretty straightforward.

Step #2: Don’t Pay the Ransom

You don’t need to pay anything. This is due to a few factors:

  • Just keep in mind that you are dealing with a criminal. You won’t always get your data back, even if you pay the ransom.
  • You’re demonstrating the effectiveness of the attacker’s method, which will motivate them to target other firms who will follow your lead and make restitution — it’s a vicious cycle.
  • Dealing with an attack costs twice as much when the ransom is paid. Even if you manage to retrieve your data, the infection will still be present on your servers, necessitating a comprehensive cleaning. In addition to the ransom, you will be responsible for paying for downtime, staff time, device costs, etc.

Step #3: Restore Files from Backups

If you have regular backups of your data stored offsite in case of disaster, you can restore them after the attack. 

Step #4: Stop All Incoming Connections

Ransomware often uses a vulnerability in Internet Explorer or another browser to access your computer. If this happens, immediately disconnect from the Internet by unplugging your modem or turning off the Wi-Fi on your device. 

Step #5: Audit Your Security Practices

A good step is to conduct an audit of your security practices to see what needs to be improved. While it’s essential to make changes that address the immediate problem, it’s also important not to overlook other areas of your network that might be vulnerable. 

Step #6: Change All of Your Passwords

This includes passwords for email and social media accounts and any account compromised by this attack — including financial statements where sensitive information such as credit card numbers may be stored. You should also change passwords for devices connected to the internet that were not infected by ransomware.

Step #6: Call in the Experts

If your organization has been hit by ransomware, call in experts who know how to deal with this type of malware. They can help you assess what happened and determine whether there’s anything more that needs to be done before allowing employees back into the network again (or whether they should even go back in). And they’ll likely have suggestions on how best to protect against future attacks.

Final Words

You’re likely to experience a ransomware attack at some point. The important thing is to know how to recover from a ransomware attack and to be able to securely restore your data when the malware has been completely removed from your system.

Configuring a DMARC analyzer today is the first step to acquiring protection against ransomware threats! At PowerDMARC, we help you easily and quickly transition to DMARC enforcement that will protect you against a wide range of attacks that email users tend to face daily.

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