The Biden administration reportedly plans to place sanctions on financial exchanges that facilitate ransomware payments. Treasury officials said the sanctions will be the most significant deterrent to date against ransomware operators. The majority of ransomware groups request payment in cryptocurrency, which is easily transferrable and hard to track. These sanctions are in line with the administration’s ransomware strategy announced in July. The White House aims to make U.S. institutions more resilient against attacks and to improve international cooperation in the fight against ransomware. This strategy also includes holding countries where threat actors operate more accountable, mainly Russia.
U.S. law enforcement agencies recommend that organizations never pay a ransom if attacked. That being said, organizations should prepare in advance before they fall victim to an attack.
To protect against ransomware attacks, organizations should:
• Regularly back up data, air gap, and password protect backup copies offline.
• Ensure copies of critical data are not accessible for modification or deletion from the system where the data resides.
• Implement network segmentation.
• Implement a recovery plan to maintain and retain multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, segmented, secure location (i.e., hard drive, storage device, the cloud).
• Install updates/patch operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as practical after they are released. Implement monitoring of security events on employee workstations and servers, with a 24/7 Security Operations Center to detect threats and respond quickly.
• Use multifactor authentication where possible.
• Use strong passwords and regularly change passwords to network systems and accounts, implementing the shortest acceptable timeframe for password changes.
• Avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts.
• Focus on cyber security awareness and training.
• Regularly provide users with training on information security principles and techniques as well as overall emerging cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities.