No more ransomware?

A new project holds out hope in the war against ransomware attacks.

lock keyboard
Credit: Thinkstock

Ransomware was a billion dollar problem last year, and it’s getting worse. A new report from Cybersecurity Ventures details dozens of new ransomware attacks over the past 90 days. (Disclaimer: Steve Morgan is founder and CEO of Cybersecurity Ventures.)

Organizations stricken by ransomware have been fighting back by providing security awareness training to their employees. Despite the growth in training users when not to click - in order to avoid spear phishing attacks - ransomware is surging.

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times - backup your files to thwart a ransomware attack.

The  No More Ransom Project is an initiative by the National High Tech Crime Unit of the Netherlands’ police, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre and two cyber security companies – Kaspersky Lab and Intel Security. It puts back-up at the top of their how-to prevent a ransomware attack list.

The project recommends: “Have a recovery system in place so a ransomware infection can’t destroy your personal data forever. It’s best to create two back-up copies: one to be stored in the cloud (remember to use a service that makes an automatic backup of your files) and one to store physically (portable hard drive, thumb drive, extra laptop, etc.). Disconnect these from your computer when you are done. Your back-up copies will also come in handy should you accidentally delete a critical file or experience a hard drive failure.”

A ransomware Q&A published by the No More Ransom project is recommended reading for CISOs, IT security teams, and anyone who uses a computer or digital device (that means everyone). It explains the various types of ransomware, whether or not to pay a ransom, and more. Knowledge is power in the war against hackers, and there’s a lot of easy-to-read and informative material there.

Anti-Malware apps

One company provides an anti-ransomware app that’s worth a try. Cybereason calls its RansomFree app “The only free tool that stops 99% of ransomware strains, including never-before-seen types.”

A blog post by the company explains how it works, and offers a free download. In a limited set of tests carried out by Bleeping Computer, RansomFree stopped the latest version of Locky (Osiris), Cerber, and Globe.

Cybereason faces stiff competition in a crowding field of anti-ransomware vendors who know that ransomware hacks means business. Companies to watch in this space include BitDefender, Kaspersky Labs, and MalwareBytes (in beta now).

To comment on this article and other CSO content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter stream.
How much is a data breach going to cost you?