How to Recover From a Ransomware Attack

How to Recover From a Ransomware Attack

Remediation following ransomware is a long process during which companies have to do to protect their assets and prevent future attacks.

The results of a ransomware attack are different for every organization. You might have paid the ransom and the hackers came through with their end of the deal, i.e. gave you the key to your files. In other scenarios, you might have paid, and data has remained in the hacker’s hands.

If you’ve involved the authorities that used the encrypting device to recover the data, you might have gotten access to your files back without paying the ransom. Regardless of how you initially handled the situation, what follows is the period of remediation.

The recovery period following a cyberattack is the most damaging time for affected organizations. It has been known to drain the finances of companies completely. Also, it causes irreversible damage to the reputation of companies that disclosed the breach to the public.

For ransomware, it’s estimated that it takes between a week and a month to fully recover. Even if your important files are encrypted for just two days, it’s estimated that the downtime will last between 15 and 22 days

Downtime considers the time it takes for businesses to get back to 100 percent after the attack interrupts their workflow. Remediation time is crucial because it determines whether your company can get back on its feet — this time preferably stronger and better protected from possible ransomware.

How do you prevent further attacks and strengthen your security?

Analyze the Documentation of the Attack

Depending on how you handle the security of your company, your team might have had to remove the malware manually from devices. Alternatively, you may have the tools that decrypt data and remove the malware.

In both cases, you’re left with the forensic report of the incident. During the analysis, find out:

  • How many devices have been encrypted?
  • How did your IT team handle the attack?
  • How long have your files been encrypted?
  • How did the ransomware enter your network?
  • How did the malware bypass the anti-malware software you had?

The analysis of the documents that depict the attack will leave you with an overview of your system. It’ll give you a clear image of what you must work on to strengthen your security, as well as what the most vulnerable parts of your network might be.

Patch Up Flaws in the System

If there are any vulnerabilities in your network, they can lead to repeated ransomware attacks. Threat actors might be the same, or new hackers might be going after your organization.

To weed out the flaws in your system, consider how the malware entered your system. Ransomware can get into your system via a phishing email infected with malware that encrypts data.

Another common route for the virus to breach your system is via websites that contain a virus. Therefore, vulnerable parts of your cybersecurity posture could be your employees that need more training. Educate your employees on the protocols and basic cybersecurity hygiene.

That can prevent simple errors such as weak passwords, opening emails from unknown senders, and downloading infected attachments.

Getting Your Business Ready for Ransomware

Some actions you can take to protect yourself from possible ransomware include:

  • Backing up important data
  • Preparing the tools that can remove malware
  • Training your employees, deciding on protocols early

Invest in software that can detect malware and remove it from your system even before it can turn into an incident and encrypt your files.

Hackers fundamentally rely on human mistakes and members of your team that may not be familiar with cybersecurity issues or aren’t tech-savvy. They are the ones that might click on a link that leads to malware-infected websites.

Determine how your teams should handle the attack before they occur. How should they mitigate the attack? Does your organization need to report the incident and notify the public? Those are some of the answers you need in advance.

Back up your data in isolated places so that you can reach them even if hackers manage to conduct one more attack. Otherwise, ransomware can disrupt your workflow and set you back by blocking the access to files you need to run your company.

Monitor the Network to Discover New Ransomware Attempts

After the vulnerable parts of your system have been patched up, and you’ve set it up to be bulletproof in case of further attacks, it’s necessary to continually scan the system.

Even if you paid the ransom, there is no guarantee that you won’t be the repeated target of these attacks.

Your system is continually changing — sometimes within minutes. Those alterations can result in new flaws that can leave your organization vulnerable to repeated ransomware.

How Long Until Everything Returns to Normal?

Ransomware is a major setback for businesses. How long might it take them to recover after the ransomware? That depends on whether they have been preparing for such incidents and how many files have been decrypted.

Did they have the measures, tools, and protocols that govern what to do in case of such an incident?

For companies that were prepared, but hackers still managed to discover a vulnerability and install malware, the best-case scenario would be that their systems are down for two days.

Unprepared businesses can deal with the consequences of ransomware for months to come.

Some businesses never recover after a cyberattack. They may not have the finances to remedy the flaws in the system following the breach.

The extent to which devices have been hit by ransomware also matters. You might have lost the vital files that haven’t been recovered. In other cases, some of your information might have been leaked to the public.

Hope For the Best, Prepare for the Worst

A successful ransomware attack can leave IT teams and business owners with a lot of anxiety. 

The best you can do is to patch up flaws to prevent further attacks and get ready for a repeated attack.

Therefore, have the security solutions and protocols ready, employees trained, and continually scan the network to discover signs of the ransomware early.

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