The Cyberdivision of the FBI is serious about ransomware! An FBI speaker last Friday at the SC Bar’s excellent tech seminar, an annual seminar I highly recommend for solo and small firm lawyers, emphasized awareness and employee training are critical to prevent data losses in your operation.
Ransomware is a form of malware that is most often delivered through spear phishing e-mails. Spear phishing is a type of e-mail fraud that seeks unauthorized access to confidential data. Ransomware is what it sounds like. Once the fraudster gains access, your system is locked down, and money is demanded to provide access. You have to pay for your own data!
The FBI recommends prevention, business continuity and remediation, but suggests that there is no guarantee of prevention even with the most robust controls in place. Methods of prevention include:
- Provide extensive awareness and training for your staff.
- Use strong anti-virus and anti-malware solutions that are set up to update automatically.
- Regular scans should be conducted of the anti-virus and anti-malware solutions.
- No user should be assigned administrative access unless that access is absolutely needed.
- Those with administrative accounts should only use them when necessary.
- Keep access to a minimum. If a user only needs specific files, he or she should not have access to other files.
- Ask your IT professionals to implement controls to avoid common ransomware techniques.
But since prevention is not guaranteed, the most attention should be paid to business continuity and remediation. In short, back up your data regularly and regularly verify the integrity of the backups. Secure backups. Ensure backups are not connected to the computers and networks they are backing up.
The FBI does not endorse paying a ransom to the fraudsters and teaches that paying the ransom does not always ensure regaining access to data.
The FBI encourages victims to contact a local FBI office immediately to report a ransomware attempt and to request assistance. Victims are also encouraged to report cyber events to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov.)