Ransomware is a growing threat to the landscape of businesses and their IT environment. It is one of the leading cyber attacks that can bring down a whole company. Ransomware is malware that takes control of a network or information on the network, keeping it locked down until a “ransom” is paid for its release. A company should never have to pay this ransom, considering there are steps to avoid such situations, such as a ransomware preparedness assessment.

No business is immune to cyber attacks or social engineering, especially since the biggest vulnerability for any business is human error. No one intentionally clicks a bad link, but that’s the easiest way to get ransomware on your computer. One unfortunate instance of a phishing email can cause an entire network to fall to ransomware. However, with cybersecurity and information security in place, it can make things a lot easier to recover.

What is Ransomware?

As stated above, ransomware is a dangerous malware program that can lock up computers or networks, taking them hostage by encrypting data. In order to get the key or method of unlocking this encryption, bad actors will demand a ransom to be paid. If paid, the hackers will usually release the encryption key to release the data—but this isn’t always the case. No one says that they have to send the encryption key, after all.

Ransomware can be applied to any business or network that doesn’t have proper cybersecurity policies in place. These attacks usually come through social engineering like phishing or vishing. A simple email can install one of these malicious programs, so not only can a security awareness training be a great defense against it, it is also a good idea to get a ransomware preparedness assessment.

What is a Ransomware Preparedness Assessment?

There are plenty of ways to prevent ransomware, but one of the best methods is a ransomware preparedness assessment. A ransomware preparedness assessment is an in-depth review of an organization’s readiness to fight against a ransomware attack. These assessments should focus on three main factors:

  • Prevention
  • Detection
  • Response & Recovery

Many cybersecurity and information security firms use guidance from the NIST, FFIEC, CISA, CIS, and others to make sure that organizations have the utmost protection against ransomware. Security analysts will use this guidance and review documents and interview key personnel on policies and procedures to test security controls. This includes backup and recovery of data, which is one of the more important portions of the assessment.

This includes testing the external facing securities on a network, as well as testing employees on security awareness. Simulated phishing is also usually included in this, going through a predetermined list of employees that may receive fake phishing emails or vishing calls. These can further lead to things like quizzes to better inform an employee that may have opened an actual phishing email.

There are many other tests and services that can be performed to go along with a ransomware preparedness assessment as well. Many organizations use internal and external penetration tests to further improve their cybersecurity posture. Information security has many different factors and it’s important to go over each of them.

These assessments should be preformed relatively often. Once or twice a year is the optimal timing, but realistically, it should be done each time there is a major change to any of the network environment. The IT landscape is always changing and any sort of setting can cause a new vulnerability to pop up. This also looks good to many examiners who will look for government compliance.


Ransomware is one of the most dangerous and prevalent cyber attacks that can be very expensive for a business to recover from. It has been the reason many small businesses have gone bankrupt, whether through being unable to pay for the ransom, being sued for having customer data stolen, or even because they simply weren’t trusted anymore.

Ransomware prepared assessments are in-depth reviews of security controls in a business or network. This includes going over documents and policies, as well as interviewing important or operational employees. It can also extend to regular employees with security awareness tests. It is a good thing to get these sorts of assessments every time there is a major update on your IT environment. However, it is a good idea to get at least once or twice a year regardless.

These types of assessments will protect your organizations from bad actors. A ransomware preparedness assessment can be combined with other tests like external and internal penetration tests, vulnerability scans, and more. It’s important to talk to a cybersecurity firm to learn how you can better improve your information security posture.

Eddy Berry, Security Research Analyst

Eddy has been researching cybersecurity for a few years now. Finding specific trends and best practices is something he takes pride in, assisting in finding news and government regulation that are on the rise. He researches topics and writes articles based on current events and important vulnerabilities that are affecting people, always hoping to get the necessary cybersecurity steps to those that need them.