Back in May we published an article about WannaCry, the ransomware that was doing the rounds at the time and the 5 key things you can do to protect yourself from attacks. Since then, ransomware and cyber security in general, has received increasing media attention.
In fact, ransomware is the number one cyber risk right now, owing to the potential damage and cost to the organisation, or individual. GCHQ’s National Security Cyber Centre estimates that the average cost of a security breach today is between £600k and £1.15m and Cybersecurity Ventures recently released a report predicting that ransomware damage costs would exceed $5 billion (£3.9 billion) in 2017, taking into consideration loss of data, downtime and loss of productivity.
Unfortunately, it would also seem that cyber-attacks appear to be more predominant here in the UK, meaning its more relevant than ever to maintain good IT security and cyber security awareness within your organisation. Ori Eisen, founder and chief innovation officer of fraud prevention company 41st Parameter says, “It’s more prevalent in the United Kingdom, which is sort of a staging or testing ground. It’s starting there and getting more momentum.”
Below we list Bluepoint’s top 10 tips for Cyber Security:
- Back up – This is the key piece of advice to take away. If your data is backed up regularly, and you diversify your backups (i.e. back up to the cloud, and back up to an external hard drive), then you cannot be held to ransom to release your files. Software can be reinstalled, you can even purchase a new device, but if someone steals or encrypts your files, without a backup there’s a high chance you’ll never see them again. Even if you paid the ransom, there’s a strong chance you’ll still not be given access back.
2. Use reputable anti-virus software.
3. Exercise caution – Do not click on attachments in emails from unknown or suspicious sources, always verify where the email is from, and if you should be receiving it. This must become part of your organisations cyber security education. Everyone within your network must exercise caution in this area.
4. Disconnect from the internet, immediately – If you suspect you’re under attack, or you start to lose control of your computer, disconnect from the internet as quickly as possible. This could mean that the ransomware won’t get the chance to establish a connection with its Command and Control server and thus will not be able to complete the encryption routine.
5. Enable pop up blocker – Or install a reputable browser add-on to block pop ups.
6. Alert the authorities – And do NOT pay any ransom. You’ll probably still not get your files back if you do.
7. Update your software – Install patches and keep your operating system and all software up to date, including Windows, your antivirus software, browsers, Adobe Flash Player and Java, amongst others.
8. Firewalls – Keep your Windows Firewall turned on, and properly configured. You can always enhance your security by setting up additional firewall protection.
9. Anti-spam – Most ransomware variants are known to spread via emails that contain contagious attachments. Your webmail server can be set up to block dubious attachments with extensions such as .exe, .vbs or .scr.
10. Passwords – In a recent report by Ofcom, they rather worryingly estimate that 55% of adults use the same password for all of their websites, and 26% of adults use a default or easy to remember password such as a name or birth date. The issue with weak passwords is that hackers deploy a method known as brute force, or brute force cracking, whereby they can run an application program to decode passwords through a trial and error method. If they crack this, and you use the same password for all of your sites then the potential for fraud, identity theft and being held to ransom simply increases.
Advancements in File Decryption for post attack recovery are not looking overly promising at this stage, so the best option is to prevent an attack from happening in the first instance, re-read the list above and identify what actions you can take, now, for peace of mind. And BACK UP your data!
Some other security methods you can consider:
- Scan archived or compressed files on your computer using your anti-virus software
- Consider disabling Windows Script Host
- Disable Macros and ActiveX controls from your Microsoft Office applications, such as Word and Excel
- Deactivate AutoPlay
- Disable file sharing
- Disable remote services
- Block known malicious IP addresses
- Switch off unused wireless connections such as Bluetooth or Infrared