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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.

Ransomware, malware, and phishing are three types of online threats that have been around for years. All three can be deployed via email, are detrimental to an organization, and can lead to the loss of financial or informational assets. They can be difficult to tell apart, but our ransomware vs malware vs phishing guide is here to highlight some key differences between them. 

Here’s a breakdown:

Ransomware Vs Malware Vs Phishing: Definitions

Ransomware Vs Malware

Ransomware is a type of malware that can encrypt your files and then make them inaccessible unless you pay the cybercriminals who sent it a ransom. The problem is that this isn’t just any old malware—it’s specifically designed to make you pay money by taking control of your computer and holding your files hostage until you pay up. Ransomware may also operate as a service commonly known as RaaS

 

Malware is another type of threat that can infect your computer and make it unusable. In most cases, malware doesn’t demand payment in exchange for removing itself from your device—instead, it will leave behind unwanted programs or files on your hard drive or laptop after it takes over your system.

Ransomware and Malware Vs Phishing

Phishing attacks involve sending emails with links or attachments that appear to come from trusted websites like Facebook or Gmail but lead to malicious sites controlled by cybercriminals who want to steal information about you or other people on the internet so they can commit identity fraud later down the road (like when trying to buy plane tickets).

Differences in Attack Prevention and Mitigation

Ransomware attack prevention 

Ransomware can be spread through email, social media, and other online services, or it can be downloaded from a website. It’s often used to extort money from victims, in what’s known as a “ransomware attack.”

The best way to prevent ransomware attacks is to use strong passwords and other security measures that protect your system and emails such as reliable anti-virus software and email authentication protocols like DMARC, respectively. 

Read our full guide on DMARC and ransomware.

Ransomware attack mitigation

If you’ve been affected by a ransomware attack, there are some things you can do right away:

  1. Make sure all the files on your PC are backed up and saved somewhere else (like an external hard drive)
  2. Remove any suspicious software from your computer and don’t install new software until the infection has been removed completely (or at least until there’s no risk)
  3. Don’t open any emails asking for money—don’t click on links in them either! 
  4. If possible, connect with friends or family members who have access to their computers so they can help clean up after you’re done 
  5. Consider having someone take over your account if possible so that only one person has access to it at once; this will make it easier for them to clean

Malware attack prevention

  1. The first step is to install antivirus software on your computer. Antivirus software can detect and remove viruses and other types of malicious software from your computer. This should be done as soon as possible after you have been infected with malware so that it can be removed before any damage has been done to your computer.
  2. Another way of preventing malware attacks is by keeping your operating system up to date. Most operating systems come with automatic updates that help keep them secure against new viruses and other types of malware by automatically downloading them when they become available online or through an update application on your computer. If there are no updates available for an operating system then it is best not to install anything until an update has been released for that particular version of the OS (Operating System).
  3. A third way of preventing malware attacks is by using strong passwords whenever possible instead of using simple ones like 12345.

Malware attack mitigation

If your computer is infected with malware, don’t wait! Run a full scan with an antivirus program before attempting any other steps. 

When a computer is infected with malware, it can spread quickly and cause more problems than just slowing down your computer. So make sure that you run a full scan before trying any other methods of recovering from a malware attack.

Phishing attack prevention

DMARC is one of the most effective ways to combat this type of attack because it can help prevent attackers from getting hold of your domain name, which would allow them to impersonate your site or service, and thus get access to your customer’s data. However, you need to be on an enforced DMARC policy of p=reject to prevent the attacks. 

Phishing attack mitigation

If your customers are receiving phishing emails that seem to be originating from your domain, you need a mechanism in place to track down these malicious IPs. DMARC reports are an excellent way to monitor your sending sources and track these IPs to blacklist them faster. 

We recommend configuring our DMARC report analyzer to view your reports in a human-readable (non-XML) format. 

Conclusion

In short, Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on your computer, holding them hostage until you pay up to have them unlocked. Malware is any kind of software that alters or deletes data without your explicit consent. Phishing is when scammers pretend to be someone you know—like your bank or employer—and ask you to provide sensitive information like usernames and passwords. 

However, all three can be administered to a user via fake emails from a spoofed address pretending to be you! Protect your domain’s emails today with a DMARC analyzer and never worry about impersonation threats again!