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15 Best Practices to Prevent Ransomware Attacks in 2024

What are Ransomware Attacks?   

Ransomware attacks are a form of malicious cyberattack where cybercriminals encrypt files or lock users out of their systems and demand a ransom payment in exchange for restoring access or decrypting the files. In these attacks, the perpetrators typically threaten to permanently delete or publish the victim's data if the ransom is not paid within a certain timeframe.

The most common methods used by How is Ransomware Installed-1cybercriminals to deploy ransomware include:

  1. Phishing emails: Cybercriminals send deceptive emails containing malicious attachments or links. When recipients open the attachment or click on the link, it executes the ransomware payload. 
  2. Exploit kits: These are toolkits used by attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in software or systems. Once a vulnerability is exploited, the ransomware is installed on the victim's device. 
  3. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) compromise: Attackers gain unauthorised access to a network by exploiting weak or compromised RDP credentials. Once inside the network, they deploy ransomware across multiple devices. 
  4. Malicious websites and advertisements: Visiting compromised websites or clicking on malicious ads can lead to the automatic download and installation of ransomware onto the victim's device. 
  5. File-sharing networks: Cybercriminals distribute ransomware through peer-to-peer file-sharing networks or torrent sites, often disguised as legitimate software or media files. 

Ransomware attacks can target a wide range of devices, including: 

  1. Personal computers (PCs) and laptops running various operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. 
  2. Servers and data centers that store valuable corporate or personal data. 
  3. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, particularly those running Android or iOS. Mobile devices are increasingly the top target for ransomware due to the amount of personal data saved on them and near universal use.  
  4. Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart TVs, routers, and connected appliances, which may have vulnerabilities that can be exploited by ransomware. 

II. 15 Best Practices to Prevent Ransomware Attacks 

By implementing these best practices comprehensively and consistently, organisations can significantly protect themselves against ransomware attacks and strengthen their overall cybersecurity posture. 

1. Employee Training and Awareness

Educating employees about ransomware risks and how to prevent ransomware attacks is crucial. Training should cover identifying phishing emails, avoiding suspicious links or attachments, and reporting potential security threats promptly. 

2. Regular Software Updates and Patch Management

Regularly updating software and applying security patches helps close known vulnerabilities that ransomware attackers exploit. Automated patch management tools can streamline this process across your organisation's devices and systems. 

3. Implement Strong Password Policies

Enforcing strong password policies, including requirements for length, complexity, and regular changes, reduces the risk of unauthorised access. Consider using password management tools to generate and securely store complex passwords. 

4. Use Duo Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

Implementing MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide multiple forms of verification before accessing accounts or systems. Duo Security, managed by Orixcom, offers a range of authentication methods such as push notifications, one-time passcodes, and biometric authentication. 

5. Secure Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

Secure RDP access by configuring strong authentication mechanisms, limiting access to authorised users, implementing network-level authentication (NLA), and using VPNs for remote connections to reduce exposure to ransomware attacks. 

6. Employ Endpoint Protection Solutions

Endpoint protection solutions like Cisco Secure Endpoint (formerly known as Cisco AMP for Endpoints) offer advanced threat detection and prevention capabilities, including behaviour-based analysis, sandboxing, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) features to protect against ransomware attacks. 

7. Utilise Email Security Measures

Implementing email security solutions like Cisco Secure Email helps detect and block phishing attempts, malicious attachments, and suspicious links. Advanced threat intelligence and machine learning algorithms enhance email security to avoid ransomware attacks via email channels. 

Phishing attacks account for 90% of data breaches. Secure your business now!  

8. Backup Data Regularly

Regularly backing up critical data ensures that you can recover it in case of a ransomware attack. Backup solutions should be automated, regularly tested, and follow the 3-2-1 backup rule (three copies of data, two stored locally, and one stored offsite). 

9. Encrypt Sensitive Data

Encrypting sensitive data adds an extra layer of protection, ensuring that even if data is compromised, it remains unreadable without the encryption key. Use encryption solutions for data at rest, in transit, and within applications or databases. 

10. Limit User Access

Limit user access to only the essential resources and data required for their designated roles, adhering to the principle of least privilege. Implementing access controls and user permissions reduces the attack surface and mitigates the impact of ransomware attacks. 

11. Monitor Network Traffic

Implement network monitoring tools to detect and analyse abnormal network traffic patterns indicative of ransomware activity. Intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and network anomaly detection tools can help identify and respond to threats promptly. 

12. Implement Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM solutions collect, correlate, and analyse security event logs from various sources to detect and respond to ransomware attacks. By aggregating and correlating security data, SIEM helps identify potential threats and prioritise incident response efforts. 

13. Employ Web Filtering Solutions

Web filtering solutions block access to malicious websites, URLs, and content known to distribute ransomware. Content filtering policies can be configured to restrict access to high-risk categories and enforce safe browsing practices. 

14. Disable Macros in Office Files

Disable macros by default in office files to prevent ransomware execution through malicious macros. Educate users about the risks associated with enabling macros from untrusted sources and encourage them to exercise caution when opening attachments. 

15. Consider Cybersecurity Insurance

Cybersecurity insurance can provide financial protection and support in the event of a ransomware attack. Evaluate insurance policies that cover ransomware incidents, including ransom payments, data recovery costs, and legal expenses associated with breach notification and regulatory compliance. 

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Counter-Ransomware Initiatives

Counter-ransomware initiatives involve a multitude of efforts by various organisations, both public and private, to combat the growing threat of ransomware attacks. These initiatives aim to raise awareness and develop cybersecurity best practices to enhance collaboration and deploy technologies to prevent, detect, and respond to ransomware incidents effectively. Here's an overview of some key initiatives and organisations working in this space: 

1. Ransomware Task Forces

  • Joint Cyber Defence Collaborative (JCDC): Formed by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), JCDC brings together public and private sector stakeholders to coordinate responses to cyber threats, including ransomware. 
  • International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT): IMPACT is a coalition of governments, law enforcement agencies, and cybersecurity organisations working to address cyber threats globally, including ransomware. 

2. Law Enforcement Agencies

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): The FBI investigates and responds to cyber threats, including ransomware attacks. It provides resources, guidance, and support to victims and collaborates with international partners to disrupt cybercriminal networks. 
  • Europol: Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) coordinates efforts among EU member states to combat cybercrime, including ransomware. It facilitates information sharing, joint operations, and capacity-building initiatives. 

3. Cybersecurity Industry Partnerships

  • Ransomware Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs): ISACs, such as the Ransomware ISAC, facilitate information sharing and collaboration among organisations to enhance cybersecurity resilience against ransomware threats. 
  • No More Ransom Project: Led by Europol, the No More Ransom Project is a public-private partnership that provides decryption tools, prevention tips, and victim support resources to combat ransomware globally. 

 4. Government Initiatives and Regulations 

  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): CISA provides cybersecurity resources, guidance, and alerts to organisations to enhance their defenses against ransomware and other cyber threats. 
  • National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC): NCSC, in various countries such as the UK, provides guidance and support to organisations to improve their cybersecurity posture, including resilience against ransomware attacks. 

5. Cybersecurity Research and Development

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): NIST develops cybersecurity standards, guidelines, and best practices, including recommendations for ransomware prevention, detection, and response. 
  • Cybersecurity Ventures: Organisations like Cybersecurity Ventures conduct research on ransomware trends, emerging threats, and cybersecurity market dynamics to inform industry stakeholders and policymakers. 
  • International Counter Ransomware Initiative (ICRI): A global collaboration aimed at formulating strategies and sharing resources to combat the growing threat of ransomware attacks, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signing up to bolster collaborative cybersecurity efforts within the initiative's framework.

6. Global Alliances and Coalitions 

  • Global Cyber Alliance (GCA): GCA brings together public and private sector partners to address cyber risks and improve cybersecurity resilience globally, including initiatives focused on ransomware prevention and mitigation. 
  • International Cybersecurity Dialogue (ICD): ICD facilitates discussions among government and industry leaders to address cybersecurity challenges, including ransomware, through policy development, capacity-building, and international cooperation.

Ransomware Prevention Tips


The threat of ransomware continues to pose significant challenges to organisations and individuals worldwide. As ransomware attacks grow in frequency, sophistication, and impact, it's imperative for stakeholders across sectors to come together and take concerted action to mitigate this threat effectively. 

Various initiatives and organisations are actively engaged in combating ransomware through awareness-raising campaigns, information sharing, capacity-building efforts, and technological innovations. From law enforcement agencies and government initiatives to cybersecurity industry partnerships and global alliances, a multifaceted approach is being pursued to enhance cybersecurity resilience and response capabilities. 

However, addressing the ransomware threat requires ongoing vigilance, collaboration, and adaptability. It's crucial for organisations to prioritise cybersecurity best practices, invest in robust defences, and stay informed about emerging threats and mitigation strategies. Additionally, fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness and resilience at all levels is essential to effectively counter ransomware attacks. 

By working together and leveraging the expertise and resources of diverse stakeholders, we can strengthen our collective defences against ransomware and better protect our digital assets, critical infrastructure, and personal information. Ultimately, by adopting a proactive and collaborative approach, we can make significant strides in deterring ransomware attacks and safeguarding the digital ecosystem for the benefit of all. 

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  1. What's a common way that ransomware infiltrates systems? 
    One common way that ransomware infiltrates systems is through phishing emails. In phishing attacks, cybercriminals send deceptive emails that appear legitimate, often impersonating trusted entities such as reputable organisations or colleagues. 
    Usually, these emails include harmful or malicious attachments or links. Upon clicking or opening them, they activate the ransomware payload, enabling it to infect the recipient's system and spread across the network. Subsequently, it encrypts files and demands ransom payments in exchange for decryption keys. Phishing emails exploit human vulnerabilities, relying on users' lack of awareness or vigilance to bypass traditional security measures and gain unauthorised access to systems. 
  2. How to protect backups from ransomware?  
    To protect backups from ransomware, it's essential to implement offline backups stored in isolated environments, ensuring they're not accessible from the primary network. Regularly testing backup systems, implementing access controls with strong authentication measures, encrypting backup data both in transit and at rest, and maintaining multiple backup versions are crucial strategies. These measures collectively mitigate the risk of ransomware compromising backup data and enable organisations to recover critical information effectively in the event of an attack. 

  3. Does a firewall stop ransomware? 
    A firewall alone does not fully stop ransomware, but it plays a crucial role in preventing its spread by blocking unauthorised network traffic and filtering out potentially malicious connections. Firewalls monitor incoming and outgoing traffic based on predefined rules and can prevent ransomware from communicating with its command-and-control servers or spreading laterally within a network. However, ransomware can still infiltrate systems through other means such as phishing emails or compromised websites, highlighting the importance of a multi-layered security approach that combines firewalls with other security measures like antivirus software, endpoint protection, and user education to effectively combat ransomware threats.

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