Today’s threat landscape is evolving quickly. To keep on top of ever-increasing risks, it’s vital to learn about ransomware prevention and how to avoid one of the more common and damaging forms of cybersecurity breaches.

How Does Ransomware Attack Data? 

Firstly, what is a ransomware attack? Simply put, it is a kind of computer virus or “malware” that infects a computer or system and installs a block that prevents you from accessing information stored there. This kind of attack is inconvenient, but it can also be dangerous, especially for large corporations or people storing sensitive data. Entire data centers might be affected by ransomware, blocking access to a huge amount of information that is no longer available to the people who need it.

With a ransomware attack, the hackers usually don’t care about stealing any information to use it for themselves. Instead, they’re installing this block so that they can extort money from you in exchange for removing it. If the owners of the infected machines fail to pay the “ransom” for their data, the hackers may delete it from the system completely–or, if it’s sensitive data that shouldn’t be spread around the internet, they’ll take and copy it and start spreading it around to hurt the data’s owner. 

Even if you pay the ransom and get access to your data again, you’ve now lost that money to online criminals. Furthermore, that often won’t be the end of it–the criminals may still ask for  more money before releasing your data, and paying the ransom once signals to other criminals that you’re a vulnerable target, which can encourage more ransomware attacks on your organization in the future. 

None of these outcomes are very great, which is why ransomware protection is so important. RiskRecon by Mastercard is one place you can turn to for ransomware protection to keep your data and assets safe from these kinds of hacks. 

Ransomware Examples

But how does this kind of malware access the systems it infects? Like most computer viruses and software that pose a threat to your data, the infection point can often be a simple mistake made by someone with access to the system. 

For instance, an attacker might attempt to get you to install ransomware by downloading a malicious attachment from an email or clicking a link sent by someone pretending to be a member of the user’s company. Some of these attacks are simple and easy to notice, but others can be more subtle and tricky. Skilled ransomware hackers might be able to imitate an official email from your work in a “phishing attack,” for example, and ask you for login information, or they may pose as remote tech support and try to get you to download things for them so they can access your computer remotely. This is why email security is crucial for any organization attempting to prevent ransomware.

Understanding ransomware prevention makes it clear why attempts to prevent ransomware are such an important aspect of cyber security. Even if you’re very careful about what links you click, what information you share, and where you go online (which you should be!), you can’t always prevent all hacks and ransomware infections. Some of these attacks are based on taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the network or software that you or your corporation use. 

Here’s one reason keeping your software and operating systems up to date is so important—many software updates include patches to fix these vulnerabilities in machine or network security once they’re discovered. Antivirus software is also kept up to date as new vulnerabilities are found. They will also block known malware and ransomware variants whenever possible, often stopping a cyber attack or malicious activity before it starts.

However, it’s always possible that hackers will find a vulnerability before software users. That kind of unexpected attack can be hard to predict and prevent, which is why ransomware prevention and protection services are valuable. Doing your research can help you predict where an attacker might strike and help you avoid a ransomware incident.

Can Ransomware Be Completely Avoided?

You're never 100% safe from cyber threats, but there are many things you can do to protect against ransomware attacks. These solutions include implementing cybersecurity best practices such as data security awareness training and anti-phishing training for all those with access to sensitive data and ensuring that members of your corporation are aware of and watching out for the most common kinds of individual-targeting ransomware attacks like phishing emails. Multi-factor authentication is another approach that can help prevent ransomware attacks since it adds another layer of security and makes it harder for personal or system vulnerabilities to be exploited by ransomware attackers. You can also work with ransomware prevention services like RiskRecon, which can provide assessments of your current “digital ecosystem” and help you locate weak points and avoid ransomware and other attacks. 

There are also things you can do to limit ransomware impact, such as keeping up-to-date backups of important data and keeping everyone in your organization aware of your policies regarding suspicious communication. A current data backup will ensure that even if a ransomware attack happens, at least your data is preserved. Your organization will likely still have to take some time in incident response to make sure the attack doesn’t happen again, and you may have some downtime while the backup is reinstated, but a good backup will prevent the worst effects of some kinds of ransomware.

As with many kinds of safety, cybersecurity will never be 100% foolproof at preventing ransomware, especially if you fail to keep up to date with possible threats from malicious actors. There’s always a chance that some new sophisticated attack will be developed, requiring security to be updated to deal with the new threat. That’s why it’s crucial to stay updated on your cybersecurity solutions and ransomware protection. If you pay attention to the weak points in your system and address those potential flaws as soon as possible, this will give you the best chance possible at avoiding ransomware attacks.

How Can RiskRecon Help Me?

RiskRecon can provide cybersecurity risk ratings and threat intelligence to help you find and fix vulnerabilities in your data security, preventing many potential attacks before they even happen. Take advantage of expert advice and insights from RiskRecon as you prepare your corporation to avoid ransomware and other cyberattacks. To get started, check out RiskRecon’s 30-day trial and see what ransomware prevention can do for your data security.