How do I recover from a ransomware attack?

Ransomware attacks continue to surge, necessitating a robust ransomware recovery plan for businesses.

A successful ransomware attack restricts access to devices and steals critical data, often compelling businesses to pay a ransom to regain access or recover information. Ensuring business continuity through proper planning can lead to faster resolutions and peace of mind. This article outlines the steps to take after a breach, demonstrating how preparation can mitigate the impact on your business.

While malware prevention is essential, the rise in ransomware attacks makes it crucial to prepare for potential breaches by understanding recovery steps. A skilled team and established recovery processes are just as important as prevention.

The Impact of Ransomware on Businesses

In 2023, ransomware attacks reached unprecedented levels, with total payments exceeding $1 billion. This marked a significant rebound from the previous year’s decline. The average ransom demand skyrocketed, often exceeding $5 million. Major attacks, such as those exploiting the MOVEit file transfer software, targeted critical infrastructure and high-profile institutions, causing extensive disruptions. The economic impact extends beyond ransom payments to include productivity losses and repair costs. For instance, MGM Resorts reported over $100 million in damages from a ransomware attack, despite not paying the ransom.

The evolving malware landscape demands up-to-date knowledge and response tactics. Effective planning prepares teams, making ransomware recovery a critical part of any incident response plan.

Why Ransomware is a Growing Threat

Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) has significantly contributed to the rise in attacks. Cybercriminals create ransomware strains and license them to other attackers, sharing in the ransom profits. This model has increased both the frequency and sophistication of attacks, highlighting the necessity of a comprehensive ransomware recovery plan.

The Steps to Ransomware Recovery

Accepting the possibility of a ransomware breach is proactive, leading to effective planning, training, and processes. Recovery involves investigating, remediating (containing and eradicating), and communicating simultaneously, requiring skilled individuals and well-drilled teams.


Discovering a ransomware attack usually happens when a staff member cannot access their documents or device. The cybersecurity team must assume multiple users are affected, identify infected systems, and determine the ransomware type.

Key questions include:

  • Will this disrupt front-end services and internal systems?
  • Has any business or client information been lost?
  • Is it a network attack, data theft, or both?
  • Has the attack violated any contracts?

Quick and accurate identification is crucial for containment and eradication steps. Simultaneously, root cause analysis should be conducted for long-term solutions.

Remediate: Contain

Containment aims to prevent the ransomware from completing encryption and spreading. Immediately isolate infected devices, shut down systems that cannot be disconnected, and take system images and memory captures for analysis. Automating containment tasks can expedite recovery.

For email-originated attacks, restrict incoming messages and delete pending emails until the attacker’s IP is blocked. Prepare alternative communication channels, like SMS, for email system downtime. In case of website compromise, block the site from the business network.

Containment measures may disrupt operations, causing staff and customer inconveniences, but are necessary to halt the attack.

Remediate: Eradicate

Eradicating ransomware involves removing malware from infected systems. The complexity varies with the attack’s scope. A 3-2-1 backup strategy can simplify this process: keep three copies of data (one primary, two backups), use at least two storage media types, and store one offsite.

Steps include:

  • Rebuild infected systems using specified tools and procedures.
  • Restore from clean backups.
  • Ensure endpoint protection is updated and enabled.
  • Monitor for re-infection and analyze persistence mechanisms.
  • Allocate necessary resources for full remediation.


Effective communication with key stakeholders is critical throughout recovery. While cybersecurity teams handle technical aspects, leaders must manage business impacts and ensure necessary support.

Key teams and stakeholders include:

  • All staff: Inform about signs of impact, reporting protocols, and disruptions.
  • Client services: Prepare for client queries.
  • Security and IT vendors: Coordinate third-party support.
  • Finance and HR: Facilitate rapid fund release and onboarding of additional help.
  • Public relations: Manage communication with media, investors, and clients.
  • Legal: Address breach of contract issues and coordinate with PR for external messaging.
  • Law enforcement: Report the breach.
  • Administration: Support documentation and communication.
  • Executives: Provide regular updates for stakeholder discussions.
  • Regulatory authorities: Report breaches involving PII within 72 hours to the ICO.

Establish a secure communication strategy with all stakeholders during the crisis. If you have cyber insurance, consult your provider before contacting law enforcement to avoid invalidating your policy.


Avoid paying the ransom as it doesn’t guarantee a solution and encourages further attacks. Begin recovery only once the threat is contained. Implement continuity plans, restore data from clean backups, and use decryption tools to regain access.

Paying the ransom should be a last resort for critical assets. Consult experienced cybersecurity professionals for potential solutions. If ransomware is a new concern, seek a cybersecurity audit and create an incident response plan.

If you’ve been a victim of a ransomware attack and need additional support, we are here to help. We can assist in building a personalized incident response plan tailored to your industry.

Connect with Secon today to discuss prevention and recovery from ransomware attacks. Reach out to Secon at or get in touch here.