With more than 40 recommendations, the Blueprint for Ransomware Defense can help small to medium sized enterprises build cyber resilience.
A new blueprint aims to give those small and medium sized enterprises most vulnerable to ransomware attacks a “common language” to help leaders understand what they must do to prevent them.
Developed by the Ransomware Task Force, the Blueprint for Ransomware Defense includes more than 40 recommendations to help small and medium-sized businesses — and state and local governments — protect themselves from ransomware attacks, as they are more frequent targets.
The blueprint comes as the need for cyber resiliency grows, where enterprises must be prepared for the next attack amid constantly evolving threats. It is based on CIS Controls, aligns with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework and aims to help enterprises focus their attention on the critical work needed to defend against the most common cyberattacks.
“In the industrial economy, it’s enough to say, build your plants like this, they won't burn down,” said Davis Hake, co-founder and vice president of policy at cybersecurity insurance company Resilience, and a co-author of the report. “[Chief financial officers] have their playbook, people in charge of plant security have their playbook and standards, and the physical space doesn't change. But in the digital space, everything is constantly changing.”
The blueprint can help state and local governments that have come under increasing strain from ransomware attacks, especially as they are often responsible for the critical infrastructure that hackers like to target. The need to protect critical infrastructure at all levels and rising ransomware costs prompted President Joe Biden to issue a national security memo on the subject last year.
“The 40 recommended safeguards included in the Blueprint have been carefully selected not only for their ease of implementation but their effectiveness in defending against ransomware attacks,” said Valecia Stocchetti, CIS Controls senior cybersecurity engineer and Blueprint co-author. Stocchetti said implementation of the blueprint’s safeguards would defend against more than 70% of the attack techniques associated with ransomware.
Among other recommendations, the blueprint urges small to medium enterprises to qualify for cybersecurity insurance and create what it calls a “cybersecurity framework of specific best practices” that makes use of new technologies to stop attacks and makes employees more cyber aware.
Hake said the blueprint helps create “a common language that unifies CFOs and risk managers” with chief security officers and technologists so they are all working toward the same goal of greater cyber resilience.
Last year’s infrastructure package included $1 billion in funding over four years for state and local governments to improve their cybersecurity.
With new federal money available, as well as other grant opportunities and the push for more cybersecurity funding in state and local budgets, the blueprint could serve as a “best practice guide” and alert elected officials to the importance of investing in cybersecurity.
“We see tools like the blueprint as a great guide for saying, ‘Okay, if we're going to be applying for these grants, how do we then put this investment where it's going to be most effective against the top threat that's facing us and our citizens right now?’” Hake said.
The Ransomware Task Force was created by the Institute for Security and Technology in April 2021 in response to the emerging national and economic security risk posed by ransomware. It consists of over 60 members from software companies, government agencies, cybersecurity vendors, financial services companies, nonprofits and academic institutions.