The most effective strategy for stopping ransomware attacks relies on preventing them from entering your organization. As the number of applications and services used by businesses continue to increase, the result can be an increase in attack surface. Organizations must consider how to secure these new services across the network, SaaS-based applications and endpoints from the start. Threat actors continue to become more skilled, with new attacks deployed faster than legacy security approaches can put new protections into place, or patches can be implemented. Consequently, organizations need to start thinking holistically about their security platform. 

Here are three quick tips on how to prevent ransomware from entering your network.

1. Reduce the attack surface

In order to reduce the attack surface, you must gain full visibility into traffic on your network – across applications, threats and users activity. It is likely that attackers could know more about what is on your network then you, and use this information as a way to get in. Classifying activity allows you to make the right decisions about what should be allowed, as well as highlights unknown events that require further investigation. With this visibility, you can take actions – like blocking unknown traffic, identifying advanced attacks or simply enabling only the applications that have a valid business purpose.

You can further reduce your attack surface by segmenting your network, allowing granular control over the applications and traffic flowing between zones. The more granular you make your zones (and the corresponding security policy rules that allows traffic between zones), the less avenues ransomware attacks have to infect your network.

2. Prevent known threats

After you have reduced your attack surface, the next step is to prevent known threats. To do this, you need to stop known exploits, malware and command-and-control traffic from entering your network. As a result, the cost of an attack rises and subsequently reduces the likelihood of an attack by forcing attackers to create new malware variants and find new zero-day vulnerabilities, which takes time and resources.

You also need to prevent users from inadvertently downloading a malicious payload or having their credentials stolen by preventing access to known malicious and phishing URLs. Blocking these threats removes them from the equation entirely.

3. Identify and prevent unknown threats

Once known threats have been blocked, it is imperative to identify and block unknown threats in real-time. Cyber attackers continue to deploy new zero-day exploits and develop new ransomware variants, which can bypass legacy security controls that rely on prior knowledge. In order to do this, you must analyze files and identify malicious content based on their behavior. Once identified, organizations need a way to automatically reprogram their security infrastructure with new prevention mechanisms. These unknown threat protections must be consistent across the network and endpoint, in order to cover both potential attack venues.

Furthermore, you can enrich your security posture with threat intelligence, providing context around the attackers, campaigns, adversaries and malicious behaviors seen in your organization. Using a threat intelligence services, security teams can prioritize their response efforts for the most targeted, unique attacks, and respond proactively to future threats.