Ransomware is a form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.
Ransomware incidents can severely impact business processes and leave organizations without the data they need to operate and deliver mission-critical services. Malicious actors engage in lateral movement to target critical data and propagate ransomware across entire networks. These actors also increasingly use tactics, such as deleting system backups, that make restoration and recovery more difficult or infeasible for impacted organizations.
Paying the ransom does not guarantee that your organization’s files will be decrypted and that you can resume regular business operations. The most important part of ransomware defense is to implement strong cybersecurity controls to prevent ransomware incidents from occurring.
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Every ransomware incident should be reported to the U.S. government. Victims of ransomware incidents can report their incident to the FBI, CISA, or the U.S. Secret Service. A victim only needs to report their incident once to ensure that all the other agencies are notified.
You can report incidents through CISA's reporting tool. Additionally, organizations should report anomalous cyber activity and/or cyber incidents 24/7 to email@example.com or (888) 282-0870.
Additional Ransomware Resources
This Ransomware Profile identifies the NIST Cybersecurity Framework Version 1.1 security objectives that support identifying, protecting against, detecting, responding to, and recovering from ransomware events. The Profile and Companion Quick Start Guide can be used to manage the risk of ransomware events.
These ransomware best practices and recommendations are based on operational insight from CISA and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC).
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued an advisory to alert companies that engage with victims of ransomware attacks of the potential sanctions risks for facilitating ransomware payments.
The Ransomware Readiness Assessment is a self-assessment based on a tiered set of practices to help organizations better assess how well they are equipped to defend against and recover from a ransomware incident. After completing this evaluation, the organization will receive reports that present the assessment results in both a summarized and detailed manner.
Library of additional NIST-authored ransomware publications.