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September 06, 2019

Homeland Security Warns Companies About Ransomware


The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has observed an increase in ransomware attacks across the Nation. Helping organizations protect themselves from ransomware is a chief priority for CISA. To assist we are sharing a summarized version of their document titled Ransomware Outbreak: The Threat and How to Think About It.

Ransomware has rapidly emerged as the most visible cybersecurity risk playing out across our nation’s networks, locking up private sector organizations and government agencies alike. And that’s only what we’re seeing – many more infections are going unreported, ransoms are being paid, and the vicious ransomware cycle continues on. We strongly urge you to consider ransomware infections as destructive attacks, not an event where you can simply pay off the bad guys and regain control of your network (do you really trust a cybercriminal?).

CISA’s Role as the Nation’s Risk Advisor

Helping organizations protect themselves from ransomware attacks is a chief priority for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). We have assisted many ransomware response and recovery efforts, building an understanding of how ransomware attacks unfold, and what potential steps you can take to better defend systems. But we also recognize that there’s no such thing as perfect cybersecurity and ransomware infections can still happen, so we’ve also developed recommendations to help organizations limit damage, and recover smartly and effectively.

Ransomware Mitigations to Help You Defend Today and Secure Tomorrow

The below recommendations – our first “CISA INSIGHTS” product – lay out three sets of straightforward steps any organization can take to manage their risk. These recommendations are written broadly for all levels within an organization. It’s never as easy as it should be, so if you need help, we urge you to reach out for assistance – CISA is here to help, but so is the FBI, numerous private sector security firms, state authorities, and others.

Actions for Today – Make Sure You’re Not Tomorrow’s Headline:

1. Backup your data, system images, and configurations and keep the backups offline

2. Update and patch systems

3. Make sure your security solutions are up to date

4. Review and exercise your incident response plan

5. Pay attention to ransomware events and apply lessons learned

Actions to Recover If Impacted – Don’t Let a Bad Day Get Worse:

1. Ask for help! Contact CISA, the FBI, or the Secret Service

2. Work with an experienced advisor to help recover from a cyber attack

3. Isolate the infected systems and phase your return to operations

4. Review the connections of any business relationships (customers, partners, vendors) that touch your network

5. Apply business impact assessment findings to prioritize recovery

Actions to Secure Your Environment Going Forward – Don’t Let Yourself be an Easy Mark:

1. Practice good cyber hygiene; backup, update, whitelist apps, limit privilege, and use multifactor authentication

2. Segment your networks; make it hard for the bad guy to move around and infect multiple systems

3. Develop containment strategies; if bad guys get in, make it hard for them to get stuff out

4. Know your system’s baseline for recovery

5. Review disaster recovery procedures and validate goals with executives

Victims of ransomware should report it immediately to CISA at www.us-cert.gov/report, a local FBI Field Office, or Secret Service Field Office.

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While there is no foolproof method to stop these attacks, it is essential to patch systems and also train users.

Also:

  1. Read cybersecurity essentials – a simple list which will help most organizations become far more secure.
  2. Go to a phishing simulation vendor and sign up for one of their offerings. Phishing BoxKnowBe4 and Phish360; are all great. This is needed to train workers by testing them without their knowledge by sending real-looking emails to their inboxes. If they click, they are immediately trained on what not to do.
  3. We also recommend you get a free evaluation of your cybersecurity risk from an MSP/MSSP immediately – they can also help you build in the needed compliance to reduce the risk of being fined.




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