By Shah Ahmed Farouq | firstname.lastname@example.org
June 4, 2021 – The White House urged both public and private sectors to strengthen it’s against the rising cyber threat in a memo given to business leaders and corporate executives on Wednesday.
Anne Neuberger, Deputy Assistant to President Joe Biden and Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology said in the open letter that the private sector also has a critical responsibility to protect against these threats.
“All organizations must recognize that no company is safe from being targeted by ransomware, regardless of size or location,”
“But there are immediate steps you can take to protect yourself, as well as your customers and the broader economy,”
“Under President Biden’s leadership, the Federal Government is stepping up to do its’ part, working with like-minded partners around the world to disrupt and deter ransomware actors,” she said.
The White House memo list out the steps to help protect businesses against ransomware attacks.
1) Backup your data, system images, and configurations, regularly test them, and keep the backups offline: Ensure that backups are regularly tested and that they are not connected to the business network, as many ransomware variants try to find and encrypt or delete accessible backups. Maintaining current backups offline is critical because if your network data is encrypted with ransomware, your organization can restore systems.
2) Update and patch systems promptly: This includes maintaining the security of operating systems, applications, and firmware, in a timely manner. Consider using a centralized patch management system; use a risk-based assessment strategy to drive your patch management program.
3) Test your incident response plan: There’s nothing that shows the gaps in plans more than testing them. Run through some core questions and use those to build an incident response plan: Are you able to sustain business operations without access to certain systems? For how long? Would you turn off your manufacturing operations if business systems such as billing were offline?
4) Check Your Security Team’s Work: Use a 3rd party pen tester to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against a sophisticated attack. Many ransomware criminals are aggressive and sophisticated and will find the equivalent of unlocked doors.
5) Segment your networks: There’s been a recent shift in ransomware attacks from stealing data to disrupting operations. It’s critically important that your corporate business functions and manufacturing/production operations are separated and that you carefully filter and limit internet access to operational networks, identify links between these networks and develop workarounds or manual controls to ensure ICS networks can be isolated and continue operating if your corporate network is compromised. Regularly test contingency plans such as manual controls so that safety critical functions can be maintained during a cyber incident.
She emphasized that the threats are serious and they are increasing. Ransomware attacks have disrupted organizations around the world, from hospitals across Ireland, Germany and France, to pipelines in the United States and banks in the U.K.
“To understand your risk, business executives should immediately convene their leadership teams to discuss the ransomware threat and review corporate security posture and business continuity plans to ensure you have the ability to continue or quickly restore operations,” she added.