Tackling Ransomware in the Software Development Industry

Many software development organizations run day-to-day under a false sense of security: The majority of their workforce is tech savvy and knowledgeable about the potential cybersecurity threats they face. As a result, the organization feels they are better equipped to protect their valuable data — their source code — without a sophisticated IT department in place.

This is when problems tend to occur. Ransomware attacks, where nefarious agents on the web block access to an organization’s data until a large ransom is paid, can happen to any software development organization. Those who perpetrate ransomware attacks understand how valuable a software company’s source code is to them — and the price they would pay to retrieve it.

However, many software development organizations believe that backing up their code in a second location can thwart ransomware attacks because they retain access to their data. However, a basic backup is not enough. Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and frequent. In fact, according to a report, 304 million ransomware attacks occurred globally in 2020, with ransomware affecting over 65% of global businesses.

Whether you have an IT department of one or your software developers double as your IT department, ensure you have these security measures in place to safeguard your source code.

  • Create three copies of data: Ransomware attackers are counting on organizations not having any backups of their data so that they have to pay to get it back. When you already have multiple copies of your source code backed up in multiple locations, you don’t need to engage with the ransomware attack.
  • Use two different mediums: Where should you store your data? If all of the backups are in the same place, it’s likely the ransomware attack can affect them all. Ideally, keep copies of your data on different types of storage mediums, such as internal hard drives, external hard drives, or USB storage. To further protect your source code, keep the hardware in different physical locations.
  • Have one off-site copy: Keep one copy of your data off-site, far from the rest. This helps safeguard against worst-case scenarios that go beyond ransomware attacks.
The importance of layered security in cyber defense for software development organizations…

If your software developers are also acting as your IT team, they may have installed basic antivirus software or a firewall to protect your systems. However, are they constantly monitoring and updating their security measures? This is one of the biggest mistakes software development organizations make: thinking that cybersecurity is a set-it-and-forget-it action. A secure IT environment is constantly audited, monitored, tested, updated, and tracked — if it isn’t, threats such as ransomware attacks can prevail.

Taking a layered security approach is the best course of action so you can ensure your systems are enterprise-class and as sophisticated as the attacks you’re facing. This way, if the ransomware attackers get past one security measure, there are still others in place to stop them from holding your source code hostage.

There are three aspects to layered security:

  1. Prevention: This includes security policies, controls, and processes to stop attacks from taking place.
  2. Detection: This includes tests and audits that discover any issues and notify you when a compromised security event happens.
  3. Response: This is your plan of action that must be taken as soon any issue is detected.
The seven layers of security

Security experts have divided layered security into seven different areas to help software development organizations create a comprehensive security posture to protect their entire tech stack from any incidents. After all, if your organization faced a ransomware attack, would you still be able to meet your release date? Would your customers still trust you with their data? Would your partners still want to do business with you?

Protecting your source code is about more than just the years of hard work you have put into it. It’s about meeting the expectations of your customers, investors, partners, and stakeholders.

  1. Information security policies: Use security policies to restrict unauthorized access to data. It is also vital to use these policies to educate your teams so they are aware of potential threats and how to avoid them. Having these policies in place demonstrates to your stakeholders that you’re serious about securing your — and their — data.
  2. Physical security: Do you have cameras around your facility? Are there fences around the perimeter and deadbolts on any external doors? These may seem like simple security measures, but you would be surprised to know how many software development organizations don’t have measures in place to restrict access to sensitive data and information systems.
  3. Network security: A hacker just needs to find one single vulnerability in your network in order to access your computers and servers. If your developers are also expected to manage the IT systems, they may be failing to update your security software frequently enough or overlooking a potential vulnerability because it is not their area of expertise.
  4. Vulnerability scanning: Inadequate patch management and misconfigurations lead to open doors for cybercriminals. Is your team conducting vulnerability scans to detect any potential gaps in your security posture?
  5. Strong identity and access management (IAM): Hackers get into networks by acquiring passwords from your users. With IAM in place, you can restrict access to data and code for certain employees to limit the access a hacker would have if they break in.
  6. Proactive protection and reactive backup + recovery: If your systems go down after an attack, how long would it take you to get back up and running to full capacity? How would that affect the users of your software? How many weeks would that set back your developers? It’s vital to have a plan in place so you can recover as quickly as possible after an attack.
  7. Continual monitoring and testing: When software developers are focused on the code, they are not thinking about whether they need to update their security software. If you fail to monitor and update your BCDR plan, you open yourself up to vulnerabilities.
Are you prepared for a ransomware attack today?

In the software development industry, data is everything: from how your software is built to your customers’ private information. Keeping it safe keeps your business safe — it protects your revenue and your reputation.

IT often feels like an obstacle for software development organizations because they do not have the bandwidth to make it a priority. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. With JPMerc, software development organizations get a robust IT department at their fingertips, with the expertise and experience to protect their code — no matter the threat. Whether you’re looking for full managed services, security services, data network support or more, you’ll get an IT provider that is more than just a vendor — we’ll be a valued partner for your business.

Learn more about how we work with software development organizations.