Ransomware is a real security headache that refuses to go away, a major cybersecurity threat to organisations all over the world. But with an understanding of your own network and the correct protections in place, it is possible to reduce the impact of an attack.

Because ransomware criminals like exploiting the easy targets, it is a wise move to get to know your network vulnerabilities. It is vital to help stopping these attacks.

Meanwhile, we know the best type of defence is to secure ourselves so these criminals can’t infiltrate our networks in the first place. But what happens when they do get through our defences? If we’ve been wise and know about our network vulnerabilities and how everything is put together and works, even if the intruders have successfully breached the perimeter, we can help slow down or stop the spread of an attack.

For example, if we segment the network and each area is separate from each other it’s much harder for these criminals to move about. In other words, the criminals are unable to compromise other systems in your networks, they’ve been shut out. So, that’s one way to help stop the spread of an attack.

Ed Williams, director of SpiderLabs EMEA at Trustwave says “You want to make it difficult to cross certain boundaries, so you can lessen the impact of malware or ransomware.” If it is the “entire organisation” that is compromised “then it gets really difficult” to isolate to determine the issue.

Firstly, ransomware criminals enter a network using phishing attacks or exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities, in general.

Secondly, these criminals want to find out as much about the network as possible to find their way around, to in time, carry out their ransomware attack.

So, if ransomware criminals are investigating our networks, surely our best defence is getting to know our own network. This could prove difficult for IT departments to audit the entire network to discover everything that’s on it. But worth examining as much as possible to try and spot any weaknesses and fix them.

Director of SpiderLabs Ed Williams recommends that every organisation regardless of size and industry needs to “understands what assets you have.”

And by making it the “first thing” to do you’ll have a good understanding of what your assets look like, and you can build in layers. In other words, “you can do good vulnerability management to make sure that there’s no exploits available for your kit that’s out there.” Warning that regular checks and overview of the network are important because “exploits come out quickly and can get weaponised quickly.”

In that way your applying security updates as soon as possible to prevent vulnerabilities being exploited.

Also, make sure you’re using unique strong passwords and not putting in some of the worst passwords.

And lastly, add in two-factor authentication for all users as this can also help prevent networks falling victim to ransomware and other malware attacks.

In short, our advice is to get to know your network, ensure strong passwords, and install 2FA to stop these attacks.

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