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For many organizations, technology encompasses many parts of the workplace. Organizations are continually integrating the latest tools to maintain a competitive edge.

While these innovations are enabling automation and optimizing the flow of tasks, these advancements also have their share of limitations. From healthcare centers to financial institutions, no one is immune from a crippling cyberattack.

In recent years, cybercrime activities have increased in frequency. The CyberEdge Group reported that about 90% of organizations located in the US saw at least one successful cyberattack per year. As cybercrime increases in prevalence, organizations must optimize their security infrastructure.

How to Deal with a Ransomware Attack: A 9-Step Ransomware Response Plan

By definition, ransomware is a type of malware that prevents a target from accessing their data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks instigate security breaches in an organization and pose a huge threat to the company’s overall stability.

With numerous cybersecurity threats, it is necessary to preemptively develop a safety net in preparation for a possible unexpected attack. As such, you should invest time and resources to create a ransomware response plan. Failure to do so may not only cost you hefty fines but may also damage your industry reputation.

1. Remove all affected devices from your network

The first thing you should be doing is to isolate devices that have been compromised by ransomware. Disconnect your drives and turn off the devices’ internet connection or Bluetooth. In extreme cases, you might have to close the entire network.

Generally, ransomware doesn’t just stop at one device but will infect any device. While it might seem hopeless initially, the ransomware spreads through network activity, so shutting down the line potentially slows further damage.

2. Check your back-ups and restore data if possible

Before you proceed with your recovery plan, try to see if there are any backup files you can use from before the infection took place. If your organization regularly backs up your files and keeps system logs, you should have a copy of your data before it’s compromised. 

3. Document the attack

If possible, keep a record of both system and server logs. It’s also essential to keep records of suspicious messages and encrypted files. While it might not mean much at the moment, it significantly helps identify the malware being used and may even serve as a lead to the perpetrator. 

Documenting your system and logs may also give you an idea of how easy it’ll be to recover your files. Usually, there’s a higher chance for recovery if older ransomware is used in the attack.

4. Notify local authorities

As soon as possible, you should report your attack to the relevant authorities. It’s important to file a report since there’s always a chance the authorities have decryption keys that may help recover your files.

5. Identify what kind of ransomware is attacking your organization

Knowing the type of ransomware attacking your systems gives you and the authorities several pieces of information on how to go about it. Not all ransomware is built the same, and the type of ransomware you’re dealing with may require a certain troubleshooting mode.  

6. Assess your options

Choose between using a decryption tool to save your data, restoring your files through a backup, paying the ransom, or accepting that your data is lost.

Hopefully, you’ll be saved from experiencing the latter two options and have your data salvaged through decryption tools, which authorities can access once the incident has been reported.

7. Backup encrypted files

Backing up encrypted files at this point of the response plan helps speed up recovery. It’ll also become your security net if something goes wrong in the decryption process.  

8. Restore your data

If the threat has been contained, you can most likely start recovering and restoring the compromised files through your backup files. Do note, however, that sometimes attacks target your backup files, so you may still lose your data.

9. Improve your security

Now that you’ve had your experience with ransomware activity, assess ways to improve your security going forward. Organizations likely experience ransomware attacks more than once, so being prepared the second time will be essential.

Ransomware Prevention is Key

Ransomware attacks continue to be a persistent threat. While you might not be able to tell who’s next on the target list, you can always create a ransomware response plan to safeguard your company and its stakeholders.

Your response plan will be your main ransomware prevention strategy, and you should improve it regularly. If you want to further protect your organization, there’s no better partner than Q5id. As an effective way to slow down ransomware activity, inquire about our multi-factor authentication solutions.

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