The rise of ransomware can be attributed to several factors. First, world conflict has certainly led to intensified cyber-attacks and the exponential growth of digital communication and storage has created a vast landscape of potential targets.
Second, the increasing sophistication of ransomware attacks, often involving social engineering techniques, has made it easier for attackers to gain access to sensitive information and the means to force payment through cryptocurrencies has made it easier for attackers to remain anonymous and avoid detection. Ransomware attacks are usually carried out through phishing emails, infected downloads, or vulnerabilities in outdated software. Once the ransomware is installed on the victim's device, it can spread to other data on the same network, making it a particularly dangerous threat to the enterprise.
Ransomware attacks can have severe consequences for victims. In addition to the loss of data, companies may face significant financial losses and reputational damage. Governments may also experience disruptions in critical infrastructure, leading to potential public safety concerns. According to the IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average data breach cost in 2022 was 4 million dollars USD.
Preventing and mitigating ransomware attacks requires a multi-pronged approach. Companies and individuals should take steps to secure their networks and data, including implementing robust password policies, regularly backing up data, and using antivirus software. In addition, education and awareness campaigns can help to reduce the risk of falling victim to social engineering techniques used in ransomware attacks.
One of the most effective means to protect your sensitive data is to use a data at rest encryption for your storage mediums such as file servers and cloud storage locations.
In addition, using a process known as sharding can provide excellent resiliency to protect your data by dividing it into smaller parts called shards. Each shard will only contain a portion of that file/data, so that even if one shard is compromised, the entire file process provides resiliency from ransomware and data exposure by the bad guys. This process also uses encryption keys employing strong encryption algorithms such as AES-256 to encrypt the sensitive data before storing it in the storage medium thus ensuring that only authorized users can access the data.
Together, data at rest encryption and sharding can provide a high level of security for sensitive data.
This ensures that even if the data is stolen, it will be unreadable to unauthorized users and thus personally identifiable information (PII) can't be shared to the world. This also helps organizations greatly improve their compliancy requirements for data protection laws such as GDPR, POPIA, CCPA/CPRA, etc.
STEP 1 should include the use of a technology that provides at rest encryption for your sensitive data significantly minimizing the bad guy's access to your organizations crown jewels. Coupled with a technology that provides sharding which by its nature provides point-in-time recovery; this assures productivity even in what may seem the worst of times. Make this part of your Zero Trust approach.