Ransomware is a form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering them and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption. Over time, malicious actors have adjusted their ransomware tactics to be more destructive and impactful and have also exfiltrated victim data and pressured victims to pay by threatening to release the stolen data. The application of both tactics is known as “double extortion.” In some cases, malicious actors may exfiltrate data and threaten to release it as their sole form of extortion without employing ransomware.
These ransomware and associated data breach incidents can severely impact business processes by leaving organizations unable to access necessary data to operate and deliver mission-critical services. The economic and reputational impacts of ransomware and data extortion have proven challenging and costly for organizations of all sizes throughout the initial disruption and, at times, extended recovery.
This guide is an update to the Joint Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) Ransomware Guide released in September 2020 (see What’s New) and was developed through the JRTF. This guide includes two primary resources:
- Part 1: Ransomware and Data Extortion Prevention Best Practices
- Part 2: Ransomware and Data Extortion Response Checklist
Part 1 provides guidance for all organizations to reduce the impact and likelihood of ransomware incidents and data extortion, including best practices to prepare for, prevent, and mitigate these incidents. Prevention best practices are grouped by common initial access vectors. Part 2 includes a checklist of best practices for responding to these incidents.
These ransomware and data extortion prevention and response best practices and recommendations are based on operational insight from CISA, MS-ISAC, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hereafter referred to as the authoring organizations. The audience for this guide includes information technology (IT) professionals as well as others within an
organization involved in developing cyber incident response policies and procedures or coordinating
cyber incident response.