13 Mar 2020

It’s no coincidence that the maturity levels in the new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) are being referred to as levels of “cyber hygiene.”  The World Health Organization (WHO) has been advising us that the most efficient way to protect against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is to wash our hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and stay out of public places; just like with the Cornoavirus, sometimes it’s those basic hygiene practices that are the most effective prophylactic when protecting against ransomware.

Think of your body as your computer and ransomware, like the Coronavirus, is trying to infect you.  How do you defend against it?

Most people will automatically think “face mask,” just like they think “antivirus software.”  They both seem like good ideas, but in all actuality, face masks are about as effective at protecting you from the Coronavirus as basic antivirus software is at protecting your computer from being infected with ransomware: not effective at all.  In fact, they can both hurt you by tricking you into believing you’re safe when you’re not.

Think about it; if you believe a face mask will protect you from the Coronavirus, you’re more likely to go places that might expose you to the virus.  Same thing with a computer; if you believe your antivirus software is protecting you, maybe you will be more likely to click on a suspicious link or open an attachment from an unknown sender because what harm can come from that if you paid for basic antiviral protection, right?

*Sigh*

That is just asking for a hacker to come in, encrypt your data and hold it ransom in exchange for a significant amount of bitcoin.

Basic Hygiene

The best way to avoid getting infected with ransomware is NOT to rely on your antiviral software, just like you shouldn’t rely on a face mask to keep you from getting the Coronavirus.  The best way to avoid both ransomware and the Coronavirus are to practice basic hygiene regularly.

To practice basic cyber hygiene, you’ll want to use the CMMC maturity level 1 for inspiration:

 

Access Control (AC)

  • AC.1.001: Limit information system access to authorized users, processes acting on behalf of authorized users, or devices (including other information systems).
  • AC.1.002: Limit information system access to the types of transactions and functions that authorized users are permitted to execute.
  • AC.1.003: Verify and control/limit connections to and use of external information systems.
  • AC.1.004: Control information posted or processed on publicly accessible information systems.

Identification and Authentication (IA)

  • IA.1.076: Identify information system users, processes acting on behalf of users, or devices.
  • IA.1.077: Authenticate (or verify) the identities of those users, processes, or devices, as a prerequisite to allowing access to organizational information systems.

Media Protection(MP)

  • MP.1.118: Sanitize or destroy information system media containing sensitive data or info before disposal or release for reuse.

Physical Protection (PE)

  • PE.1.131: Limit physical access to organizational information systems, equipment, and the respective operating environments to authorized individuals.
  • PE.1.132: Escort visitors and monitor visitor activity.
  • PE.1.133: Maintain audit logs of physical access.
  • PE.1.134: Control and manage physical access devices.

Systems and Communications Protection (SC)

  • SC.1.175: Monitor, control and protect organizational communications (i.e., information transmitted or received by organizational information systems) at the external boundaries and key internal boundaries of the information systems.
  • SC.1.176: Implement subnetworks for publicly accessible system components that are physically or logically separated from internal networks.

Systems and Information Integrity (SI)

  • SI.1.210:Identify, report, and correct information system flaws in a timely manner.
  • SI.1.211: Provide protection from malicious code at appropriate locations within organizational information systems.
  • SI.1.212: Update malicious code protection mechanisms when new releases are available.
  • SI.1.213: Perform periodic scans of information systems and real-time scans of files from external sources as files are downloaded, opened, or executed.

This may not seem as simple as washing your hands for 20 seconds, but I assure you, it is close!  Just like washing your hands may keep the Coronavirus from spreading, limiting access to your networks and sensitive data will keep ransomware from going any further than the initial contact point.

Avoidance

“They” say that proximity is the number one reason people fall in love; after all, if you never meet your potential mate, how are you supposed to fall in love with them?  The same is true for avoiding viruses… If you don’t come into contact with the Coronavirus or ransomware, how can they infect you?

Avoiding the Coronavirus is pretty simple (maybe not easy, but simple!) – don’t go out in public.  Additionally, you can avoid any suspicious people who come to visit; if you have a package, make sure you don’t answer the door but have them drop it off and don’t let any strangers inside.

The same concept with avoiding ransomware; if you stay off the internet, you’re unlikely to get infected, but that’s not exactly easy to do.  So, you need to be careful who you come into contact with. If you don’t know the person who sent you the email? Don’t open it! And certainly DO NOT open any attachments or give your username and password.   You can’t control what gets sent to you but you can certainly control what you open.

Conclusion

Ransomware may not have quite as high of a mortality rate as the Coronavirus, but you most certainly want to avoid it like the plague.  The best way to do both is to practice avoidance + basic hygiene.

If you are afraid that you are vulnerable to the Coronavirus, or may have caught it, who will you contact? A doctor, or maybe the WHO or CDC.  Well, you can think of Petronella Technology Group as your ransomware health care provider. If you are unsure if you or your business are safe from a potential ransomware attack, or if you fear you may have been infected, call us at 919-422-2607 or schedule a free consultation with Craig online by clicking here.  The Coronavirus is no joke, and neither is ransomware, especially if you own or operate a small business.  Don’t wait until it’s already too late. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

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