What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software or malware. It encrypts a victim's data, after which the attacker demands a ransom. Once the ransom is paid, the attacker sends a decryption key to restore access to the victim's data. The ransom can range from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars. Typically, payment is demanded in the form of a cryptocurrency, such as bitcoins.

Our e-book explores many types of cyberthreats and explains why ransomware is especially problematic.

Automated Ransomware Recovery

Organizations can now automatically recover from ransomware attacks with first-of-its-kind capabilities in Cisco Extended Detection and Response (XDR).

How does a ransomware attack work?

Ransomware is typically distributed through a few main avenues. These include email phishing, malvertising (malicious malvertising), social engineering, and exploit kits. After ransomware is distributed, it encrypts selected files and notifies the victim of the required payment. 

Ways to protect yourself from ransomware

Back up all your data

Make sure you have an enterprise data backup solution that can scale and won't experience bottlenecks when the time comes. In the event of an attack you can power down the endpoint, reimage it, and reinstall your current backup. You will have all your data and prevent the ransomware from spreading to other systems.

Patch your systems

Make a habit of updating your software regularly. Patching commonly exploited third-party software will foil many attacks. If possible, turn on automatic patching.

Enable multi-factor authentication

The weakest link in the security chain is usually human. Educate your users about whom and what to trust. Teach them to not fall for phishing or other schemes.

Protect your network

Take a layered approach, with security infused from the endpoint to email to the DNS layer. Use technologies such as a next-generation firewall or an intrusion prevention system (IPS).

Segment network access

Limit the resources that an attacker can access. By dynamically controlling access to resources based on sensitivity, like confidential or critical data, you help ensure that your entire network is not compromised in a single attack. 

Keep a close eye on network activity

Being able to see everything happening across your network and data center can help you uncover attacks that bypass the perimeter. Deploy a demilitarized zone (DMZ) subnetwork or add a layer of security to your local area network (LAN). Leverage security platform to effectively bring all the information together to triage, analyze, and respond quickly.

Prevent initial infiltration

Most ransomware infections occur through an email attachment or malicious download. Diligently block malicious websites, emails, and attachments through a layered security approach and a company-sanctioned file-sharing program.

Arm your endpoints

Antivirus solutions on your endpoints don't suffice anymore. Set up privileges so they perform tasks such as granting the appropriate network access or user permissions to endpoints. Two-factor authentications will also help.

Gain real-time threat intelligence

Know your enemy. Take advantage of threat intelligence from organizations such as Talos to understand the latest security information and become aware of emerging cybersecurity threats.

Engage with incident response specialists

Incident response teams provide a full suite of proactive and emergency services to help you prepare for, respond to, and recover from a breach.

Cisco Secure Endpoint e-Books

Ransomware defense guide from Cisco Umbrella

Download this ransomware defense guide, learn how to reduce ransomware risks.

Protect Against Ransomware and Other Threats

Explore types of cyberthreats and see why ransomware is especially problematic.

Threat Hunting with SecureX

Discover how SecureX threat hunting disrupts cyberattacks before they can cause harm.

Cisco Talos Incident Response - We are here to help

Are you impacted? Contact Cisco Talos Incident Response. We are available globally, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Contact us: 1-844-831-7715 or +44 808 234 6353.