New U.S. Government Website Provides Ransomware Resources for Organizations

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The potential dangers of ransomware are top of mind for cyber security and IT leaders around the world. The threat of these attacks continues to rise with no organization completely safe. Ransomware attacks have been reported by businesses of all sizes and vertical industries.

StopRansomware.gov – a government-backed security resource hub

Ransomware remains a major concern for enterprises, with seemingly no end in sight for these types of attacks. The good news is enterprises are starting to take the threat seriously because of the risks of financial impact and other negative effects, and many are taking steps to defend themselves more effectively.

For better protection, organizations and end-users are advised to regularly back up important data, run security awareness training for employees and, most importantly, deploy and maintain security software solutions with dedicated anti-ransomware modules. For many organizations, particularly those with limited cybersecurity resources and expertise, the ransomware threat can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, new resources are becoming available to help security executives and teams prepare for and battle against these attacks.

One of newest resources is StopRansomware.gov, a new website launched in July 2021 by the U.S. federal government to establish a “one-stop hub for ransomware resources for individuals, businesses, and other organizations.” This site provides cyber security resources from across the federal government, with the aim of protecting businesses and communities from ransomware attacks.

The site features a detailed ransomware guide, links to report ransomware attacks to various agencies, and a ransomware readiness self-assessment tool.

“As ransomware attacks continue to rise around the world, businesses and other organizations must prioritize their cyber security,” Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security noted in a statement. “Cyber criminals have targeted critical infrastructure, small businesses, hospitals, police departments, schools, and more. These attacks directly impact Americans’ daily lives and the security of our nation.

The benefits of consolidated ransomware resources

The new website is the first central hub that consolidates ransomware resources from all U.S. federal government agencies. Previously, organizations and individuals had to visit a variety of websites to find guidance and review the latest alerts and updates. This increased the likelihood of missing important information, according to the officials involved in the effort.

Reducing the fragmentation of ransomware resources is especially vital for organizations that are victims of an attack who need access to tools and law enforcement as quickly as possible. By integrating federal ransomware resources into a single platform that includes clear guidance on how to report attacks, and the latest ransomware-related alerts and threats from all participating agencies, victims have a better opportunity to find tools like decryptors, and reach the appropriate law enforcement agencies for assistance.

StopRansomware.gov includes content from DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the U.S. Secret Service; the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services.

The federal government has acknowledged that ransomware is a long-standing problem and a growing national security threat. Addressing the challenge requires collaboration across every level of government, as well as the private sector and communities.

An additional resource helping public institutions and private companies is the NoMoreRansom project. Similar to StopRansomware.gov, NoMoreRansom serves as an initiative to educate and equip the general public for combatting ransomware attacks. Over the past five years, more than 170 partners from the public and private sectors have created 120 free tools and helped victims save about one billion USD in unpaid ransom. These tools have helped over six million users recover their data for free.

These centralized organizations who exist to serve the general public, are one way that the security community is able to come together to share their best practices and recommendations. Consolidated ransomware resources enable audiences to not have to continually search for information as the result of an attack and have quick access to response actions and the advice of some of the foremost experts in the field.  

The cost of not having ransomware protection

Organizations paid a total of about $350 million in ransom to attackers in 2020. This is 300%+ increase from the previous year and 2021 looks to eclipse that record. A recent survey also found that the average size organization who underwent a ransomware attack was composed of just 234 employees.

The new StopRansomware.gov resource can be especially useful to smaller businesses who often lack their own internal cybersecurity teams. While large global enterprises might get much of the attention when attacks happen, assaults on small businesses often go unnoticed and make up an estimated 75% of all ransomware cases, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Many small businesses have yet to adequately protect their organization and the new site provides steps to protect their systems and respond to ransomware incidents, the government said.

Regardless of size or industry, companies need help in their efforts to address the growing ransomware threat. By leveraging sites, such as StopRansomware and The NoMoreRansom Project, they can expand on their own resources to defend themselves, customers, and partners.

To learn more about how to protect against ransomware attacks, read this solution brief on prevention and mitigation.