FBI Tips to Guard Against Ransomware

30 Nov FBI Tips to Guard Against Ransomware


It’s interesting to read how many businesses are getting infected with ransomware. It’s also interesting so see that a lot of them are quick to transfer bitcoins to recover their encrypted files.

I suppose most of us have mused about how we would respond if we were bitten by ransomware.  Would you pay?

fbi-ransomware-prevention-and-response-for-cisosThe FBI published a “Public Service Announcement” regarding ransomware. The FBI urges victims to report it to them, but they don’t support paying a ransom because 1) they’ve seen too many companies pay the fee and still not get their files decrypted, and 2) paying a ransom provides incentives for additional criminal activity.

I love this in principle, but if I were in the situation I’m just not certain what I would do!

Of course, the ideal scenario is not to get infected. So what does the FBI say about that? Here’s their 16 recommendations to prevent being a ransomware victim.

FBI Tips to Guard Against Ransomware:

  • Regularly back up data and verify the integrity of those backups. Backups are critical in ransomware incidents; if you are infected, backups may be the best way to recover your critical data.
  • Secure your backups. Ensure backups are not connected to the computers and networks they are backing up. Examples might include securing backups in the cloud or physically storing them offline. It should be noted, some instances of ransomware have the capability to lock cloud-based backups when systems continuously back up in real-time, also known as persistent synchronization.
  • Scrutinize links contained in emails and do not open attachments included in unsolicited e-mails.
  • Only download software – especially free software – from sites you know and trust. When possible, verify the integrity of the software through a digital signature prior to execution.
  • Ensure application patches for the operating system, software, and firmware are up to date, including Adobe Flash, Java, Web browsers, etc.
  • Ensure anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are set to update automatically and regular scans are conducted.
  • Disable macro scripts from files transmitted via e-mail. Consider using Office Viewer software to open Microsoft Office files transmitted via e-mail instead of full Office Suite applications.
  • Implement software restrictions or other controls to prevent the execution of programs in common ransomware locations, such as temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers, or compression/decompression programs, including those located in the AppData/LocalAppData folder.

Additional considerations for businesses include the following:

  • Focus on awareness and training. Because end users are often targeted, employees should be made aware of the threat of ransomware, how it is delivered, and trained on information security principles and techniques.
  • Patch all endpoint device operating systems, software, and firmware as vulnerabilities are discovered. This precaution can be made easier through a centralized patch management system.
  • Manage the use of privileged accounts by implementing the principle of least privilege. No users should be assigned administrative access unless absolutely needed. Those with a need for administrator accounts should only use them when necessary; they should operate with standard user accounts at all other times.
  • Configure access controls with least privilege in mind. If a user only needs to read specific files, he or she should not have write access to those files, directories, or shares.
  • Use virtualized environments to execute operating system environments or specific programs.
  • Categorize data based on organizational value, and implement physical/logical partition of networks and data for different organizational units. For example, sensitive research or business data should not reside on the same server and/or network segment as an organization’s e-mail environment.
  • Require user interaction for end-user applications communicating with Web sites uncategorized by the network proxy or firewall. Examples include requiring users to type in information or enter a password when the system communicates with an uncategorized Web site.
  • Implement application whitelisting. Only allow systems to execute programs known and permitted by the security policy.

The entire article is called Public Service Announcement – Ransomware victims urged to report infections to federal law enforcement, dated Sept 15, 2016.  You can find it here: https://www.ic3.gov/media/2016/160915.aspx


Lynn Strand
Lynn is currently VP of Marketing at Fortscale. With over 19 years experience in the security industry—she has a deep understanding of fraud prevention, security technology, and SaaS solutions.

For over 20 years, Lynn has been creating and executing marketing programs that inspire people to take action. Well known for her excellent track record in generating and nurturing leads, her success comes from understanding how to develop integrated marketing campaigns that build brands and drive revenue.

Before Fortscale, Lynn was president, creative director, and senior security marketing consultant at Positive Impact Partner, Inc. and director of international marketing at ThreatMetrix. She has a BS in human development from the University of California-Davis.

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