Malware - Ransomware

How to Prevent Ransomware: The Importance of User Awareness

Adrien Gendre

February 24, 2022

13 min

You could build the most sophisticated security system relying on the latest ransomware protection technologies, but it could all be for naught if your end users aren’t trained on how to avoid putting their organizations at risk.

No system is truly 100 percent secure, which is why managed service providers (MSPs) need to address the elephant in the office that is responsible for many security breaches—end users. The training and education you provide today could end up saving all parties involved a fortune.

Let’s take a closer look at how ransomware attacks typically occur, the ways in which you can train end users on how to prevent ransomware, and the reasons why ransomware prevention needs to be taken seriously.

Email: The gateway to ransomware attacks

Research shows that ninety-two percent of malware is delivered by email. Looking at ransomware specifically, between 40 percent to 90 percent of ransomware attacks were first launched through email.

Whether an end user clicks a malicious email link or downloads an attachment from a seemingly legitimate organization or colleague, email serves as a typical gateway for ransomware attacks. Considering the large volume of emails the average employee receives every day, it’s no wonder that people neglect to scrutinize what they’re opening.

Email is an ideal platform for hackers to develop some sort of relationship or rapport with end users, whether it’s through a scam or by impersonating a vendor they’ve worked with in the past. When someone sees a message that their credit card information has been compromised or their bank account is being terminated, they’ll likely do whatever they need to do to rectify the situation.

Train your employees to recognize the signs of an attack

When it comes to minimizing the likelihood that your organization falls victim to a ransomware attack, ensuring your end users know how to prevent ransomware attacks via email is a good place to start. While investing in ransomware prevention training may not seem like a pressing issue given other competing responsibilities, the cost of educating end users is far less than the $133,000 average cost of a ransomware attack on businesses.

To boost end user awareness about how to prevent ransomware, the key is to show them not only how it occurs, but also how it directly impacts the company and themselves.

Some ways you can train your end users on detecting and preventing ransomware attacks include:

  • Mandatory annual or semi-annual cybersecurity training sessions
  • Ongoing cybersecurity awareness campaigns
  • On-the-fly, post-incident awareness training

When end users understand how their actions can affect themselves and the people around them, they’ll feel more inclined to take ransomware prevention seriously.

Educating today saves a fortune in the long-term

Big or small, every organization is susceptible to ransomware attacks. But the ripple effects from a ransomware attack are felt long after the incident takes place. The average bill for recovering from a ransomware attack, including downtime, people hours, device costs, network costs, lost opportunities, and ransom paid? $1.85 million in 2021.

The costs associated with developing an ongoing training program, in addition to investing in the right anti-ransomware technologies, will pale in comparison to the financial fallout that comes with a successful ransomware attack.

Take Vade Threat Coach, for example. Threat Coach features real phishing emails and web pages captured by Vade. If a user interacts with a phishing email, Threat Coach alerts the user and delivers a short interactive quiz that evaluates their phishing awareness.

A simple training mechanism like this will cost you a fraction of what it costs to rectify a ransomware attack, and will effectively train end users on how to prevent ransomware.

The more you know

When it comes to educating end users on ransomware prevention, knowledge is power. Humans are highly susceptible to phishing schemes and email scams, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate fraudulent content from legitimate content.

Still, taking the time to keep your end users informed about ransomware prevention best practices, emerging trends in the space, and what activity they should be suspicious of can make all the difference in stopping that one end user from making a grave mistake.

It’s true that ransomware simulations help boost user awareness, but without context around those simulations, the benefits of the experience may be lessened. 

To learn more about why you need to retrain your users at the moment of attack and fill the awareness gap between simulations and real attacks, check out our webinar.