This week, the White House is holding a ransomware summit to increase global and private sector cooperation to confront the ransomware problem. The US will host 36 countries from the European Union to discuss how to bolster resilience against ransomware attacks and thwart the cybercriminals behind them. The summit, which is in its second year, is scheduled to begin with a threat briefing from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the FBI, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency outlining the current state of the ransomware problem, including a chart that shows 4,000 ransomware attacks over the past 18 months, broken down by sector worldwide. New this year will also be the participation of 13 private sector companies and organizations: CrowdStrike, Mandiant, Cyber Threat Alliance, Microsoft, Cybersecurity Coalition, Palo Alto, Flexxon, SAP, Institute for Security + Technology, Siemens, Internet 2.0, Tata – TCS, and Telefónica. One of the larger issues that will be discussed is how to disrupt ransomware actors that operate with impunity inside of nations such as Russia, which typically ignores ransomware actors’ actions as long as Russian interests aren’t targeted in attacks.
Governments across the globe continue to look for ways to effectively battle ransomware. It has become a top priority for many world leaders especially in the US, but organizations still need to take their own steps to ensure they are protected from ransomware. 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.