Ransomware: An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

An old axiom attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is perfectly applicable to a threat unfathomable in his time: ransomware.

Recently IBM X-Force Incident Response Services released its “Ransomware Response Guide.” This guide was created due to the continued evolution of the malware. Ransomware has not discriminated: There have been several high-profile examples of hospitals and government agencies essentially being held hostage for bitcoin payments after ransomware has encrypted business-critical files. At the same time, ransomware has also plagued the average home user by encrypting family photos and other sentimentally valuable information.

When you read the “Ransomware Response Guide,” you’ll notice that a large portion of the document is devoted to a key phase in incident response: preparation. To Mr. Franklin’s point, not preparing for ransomware with an ounce of effort will in most cases result in a pound of resources being used to recover from an infection.

The X-Force Incident Response Services team witnesses this time and time again, and cannot emphasize enough the importance of implementing that ounce of prevention. Unfortunately, when our customers call, many times it’s all too apparent that simple preventative steps could have helped them avoid a ransomware infection entirely.

If your organization does fall prey to an attack, the “Ransomware Response Guide” offers a number of important guidelines you can use as your organization runs through the incident response life cycle. The guide explores important issues relating to ransomware, including the identification of the type of malware. It also provides key steps, discusses understanding the root cause and covers various recovery options.

The threat landscape is constantly changing. Types of ransomware, their technical makeup and the techniques used for their propagation that are en vogue today may drastically change tomorrow. This guide may not encompass the inevitable threats looming on the horizon. It does, however, lay a foundation for that ever-important ounce of prevention.

Whether or not your organization has been hit by ransomware, the “Ransomware Response Guide” will help you develop new ideas to prepare for this common threat or assist you in validating that your organization is taking the right steps to prepare for this attack.

Download the complete Ransomware Response Guide

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Robert Lelewski

Engagement Lead, IBM Security

Robert Lelewski has been in the incident response, computer forensics, e-discovery and computer security realm for 10 years. He is currently an Engagement Lead with IBM Emergency Response Services, leading a team that manages emergencies, develops strategies to mitigate risk in corporate environments and functions as security adviser to Fortune 500 companies.