African businesses are not immune to cyber attacks and these businesses must realise that the sole aim of hackers is financial gain. Money! That’s all they want. Either through direct transfer or better still, cryptocurrency, once they get access to your network and database, they just want their ransom paid. Well, except if the data found on your systems is valuable to them, it can be sold in the dark web market for a higher price.
Hackers are increasingly using ransomware as an effective tool to disrupt businesses and fund malicious activities.
Businesses must prepare for the possibility of a ransomware attack affecting their data, services, and business continuity. What steps are involved in recovering from a ransomware attack?
- Isolate and shutdown critical systems
- Enact your business continuity plan
- Report the cyberattack
- Restore from backup
- Remediate, patch, and monitor
Isolate and shutdown critical systems
The first important step is to isolate and shut down business-critical systems. There is a chance the ransomware has not affected all accessible data and systems. Shutting down and isolating both infected systems and healthy systems helps contain malicious code.
From the first evidence of ransomware on the network, containment should be a priority. Containment and isolation can include isolating systems from a network perspective or powering them down altogether.
Enact your business continuity plan
The business continuity plan and its disaster recovery component are essential to maintaining some level of business operations.
The business continuity plan is a step-by-step playbook that helps all departments understand how the business operates in times of disaster or other business-altering scenarios. The disaster recovery component details how critical data and systems can be restored and brought back online.
Report the cyberattack
Many businesses may hesitate to do so, but reporting the attack to customers, stakeholders, and law enforcement is essential. Law enforcement agencies can provide access to resources that may not be available otherwise.
You will also need to consider compliance regulations. The GDPR, for example, provides businesses with a 72-hour window to disclose a data breach involving customers’ personal information.
Restore from backup
The best protective measure you have for your data is backups. However, restoring large quantities of data can be time-consuming, forcing the business to be offline for an extended period of time.
This situation highlights the need to discover and contain ransomware infections as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of data that needs recovering.
Remediate, patch, and monitor
In the final phase of recovering from a ransomware attack, companies remediate the ransomware infection, patch systems that may have led to the initial ransomware compromise, and monitor the environment closely for further malicious activity.
It is not unheard of for malicious activity to continue, even if the ransom is paid, or if infected systems were restored. If the same vulnerability exists that led to the initial attack, the environment can become compromised once again.
Remediate common entry points for ransomware
As businesses look to bolster the environment against ransomware and other malicious threats, it is crucial to look at the common entry points for these types of attacks.
Cyberattacks use phishing attacks to harvest stolen credentials which can then be used to launch a ransomware attack, or access systems directly.
Prevention and next steps
Businesses must not be careless in handling password security, especially with Active Directory user accounts. Unfortunately, Active Directory does not have good native security tools for securing passwords in line with today’s password security policy requirements.