8 Ransomware-Recovery Insights IT Organizations Should Know

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2016-08-15
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    8 Ransomware-Recovery Insights IT Organizations Should Know
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    8 Ransomware-Recovery Insights IT Organizations Should Know

    IT organizations must be well-prepared to handle ransomware attacks, which are becoming increasingly common. Having a multi-faceted plan is essential.
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    What Is Ransomware?
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    What Is Ransomware?

    Ransomware is a type of malware that silently encrypts data once it is injected into a computer system by a malicious third party. Once a system is infected, the only screen the users are able to see is the hacker's flyer, which tells them how much they need to pay to regain access and how long before the data will be completely erased. In this scenario, existing security measures and traditional efforts for restoring original access via system resets, flashing BIOS or installing new hard drives are ineffective.
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    It May Be Subtle, but It's Increasingly Sophisticated
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    It May Be Subtle, but It's Increasingly Sophisticated

    Many versions of ransomware can lie dormant for days or weeks to avoid detection and look to infect network shares in addition to affecting the locally attached hard drives. Recent versions also try to disable recovery options by disabling Microsoft VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) or encrypting backups to render recovery from traditional backups difficult, if not impossible.
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    A Multi-Faceted Security Plan Is Required
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    A Multi-Faceted Security Plan Is Required

    A multi-faceted security plan is a must for any IT organization where data is paramount to business operations. Companies and organizations should include perimeter security, intrusion/malware detection and isolation provided by leading antivirus firms along with a robust backup/recovery process with well-defined frequency. Many progressive companies are now relying on storage features, such as immutable snapshots, that make it easier to recover from such attacks.
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    Enhancing Protection via Perimeter Network Security
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    Enhancing Protection via Perimeter Network Security

    Robust firewalls need to be implemented along with an intrusion-detection system or intrusion-prevention system. A proxy is another form of firewall that can be used to protect web browsing and other internet-capable applications. Additionally, log management systems can provide information that can allow experienced personnel to identify and monitor internal systems.
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    Employee Education Is Essential
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    Employee Education Is Essential

    Training to ensure that employees are aware of the potential security threats helps align the behavior of the employees with the IT organization's security policies. Simple processes set up to alleviate threats for employees in high threat areas can help cut malicious penetration significantly.
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    Build a Robust Backup/Recovery Process
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    Build a Robust Backup/Recovery Process

    A robust backup and recovery process that is regularly tested to recover data quickly—and frequently calibrated so it doesn't negatively affect the normal functioning of the computer systems—is a key component of defending against ransomware. Leveraging a disk-based backup in addition to existing tape infrastructure ensures much faster recovery. Making sure that Microsoft VSS is always enabled allows recovery from previous desktop images.
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    Immutable Snapshots Must Be Part of the Process
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    Immutable Snapshots Must Be Part of the Process

    Snapshots are a storage feature in which the file system creates (automatically or on-demand) a point-in-time copy of data. They are read-only and, therefore, immutable. In the unfortunate situation when ransomware encrypts the data and corrupts the primary file system, the snapshots are unaffected. Users will be able to recover their individual files, folders or complete network shares from these snapshots.
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    Take Snapshots Frequently
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    Take Snapshots Frequently

    Recent snapshots should be as granular as possible so that recovery to the latest version of the data is available. The snapshots should be designed so there is no penalty on the normal functioning of the storage system when such granular snapshots are taken. Finally, snapshots should allow recovery of individual files and the entire network shares to give the IT organization complete control over the recovery process.
 

Ransomware is rapidly becoming a common and effective tactic of cyber-attackers. Various vertical industries, particularly health care, have been affected significantly. A Southern California hospital that had to pay $17,000 to get its patient records back was a particularly well-known example of this. In these types of ransomware attacks, institutions' data is locked, slowing down workflow and ultimately preventing patient care. It is important to ensure that IT organizations are well-prepared for such an attack with a multi-faceted security plan. Many organizations are unaware that there are existing backup and disaster recovery features that would also provide a viable solution for recovery from ransomware. This eWEEK slide show, based on insight from Shiva Shankar, senior director of product/solution marketing at storage and data security specialist Exablox, defines ransomware, explains the evolution of the term and offers guidelines on how IT should protect against this growing threat.

 
 
 
 
 
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz
 
 
 
 
 
 

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