Take These Three Steps to Safeguard Against Ransomware Attacks

The recent ransomware attacks targeting systems across the country are the latest in a string of attacks affecting state and local government partners. The growing number of such attacks highlights the critical importance of making cyber preparedness a priority and taking the necessary steps to secure our networks against adversaries. Prevention is the most effective defense against ransomware.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), the National Governors Association (NGA), and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) are committed to supporting ransomware victims and encouraging all levels of government to proactively protect their networks against the threat of a ransomware attack. Recently, they called on state, local, territorial, and tribal government partners, along with the wider cyber community, to take the following essential actions to enhance their defensive posture against ransomware.

Three Steps to Resilience Against Ransomware:

  1. Back Up Your Systems – Now (and Daily): Immediately (and regularly) back up all critical agency and system configuration information on a separate device and store the backups offline, verifying their integrity and restoration process. If recovering after an attack, restore a stronger system than you lost – fully patched and updated to the latest version.
  2. Reinforce Basic Cybersecurity Awareness and Education: Ransomware attacks often require the human element to succeed. Refresh employee training on recognizing cyber threats, phishing and suspicious links which are the most common vectors for ransomware attacks. Remind employees how to report incidents to appropriate IT staff in a timely manner which should include out-of-band communication paths.
  3. Revisit and Refine Cyber Incident Response Plans: Agencies must have a clear plan to address attacks when they occur, including when internal capabilities are overwhelmed. Make sure response plans include how to request assistance from external cyber first responders, such as state agencies, CISA and the MS-ISAC, in the event of an attack.

To download a copy of the NGA’s State Cyber Disruption Response Plans, visit