How do we protect our computers against it?
It seems that Ransomware is here to stay, until we start changing our habits and start helping ourselves to protect our computer systems from getting an infection.
Tips for long-term prevention of ransomware attacks, for businesses and consumers:
- New ransomware variants appear daily. Always keep your security software up to date to protect yourself against them.
- Keep your operating system and other software updated. Software updates frequently include patches for newly discovered security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by ransomware attackers.
- Email is the primary infection methods. Be cautious of unexpected emails, especially if they contain links and/or attachments.
- Be especially cautious of any Microsoft Office email attachment that advises you to enable macros to view its content. Unless you are positively sure that this is a genuine email from a trusted source, do not enable macros and immediately delete the email.
- Backing up important data is the single most effective way of combating ransomware. Attackers have leverage over their victims by encrypting valuable files and leaving them inaccessible. When the victim has backup copies, they can restore their files once the infection has been cleaned up.
- Using Cloud Services could help mitigate ransomware infections, since many retain previous versions of files, allowing you to “roll back” to the unencrypted form.
Here are Five very simple Does and Don’ts:
- Don’t pay the ransom.I can hear someone asking, “But won’t you get your files back if you pay the ransom?” Just like a bully who tires of the keep-away game, you likely will get your files back if you pay. But you may not. Sensing a sucker on the hook, you might get asked to pay again and again. But let’s say you’ve got an honest thief, one willing to unlock your files if you pay. Why would you ever give money to a crook? Especially one who will use the money to fund playing bully to a host of other people? It just doesn’t seem right to me.
- Don’t click on attachments in email. The email could be saying there was a package for you that couldn’t be delivered. Or a cool screensaver that you should install. Whatever the con, they want you to click on an attachment to install the malware. Don’t do it. Just don’t click.
- Do keep software up to date.These criminals know about weaknesses in the software on your PC before you do. And they try to use them to get on your machine. It’s called exploiting a vulnerability. Patching removes the vulnerability.
- Do use security software.If you have a friend who is a security expert, who spends 24/7 keeping up on all the latest malware threats and watches over your shoulder whenever you are on your computer, you’ll be pretty safe on the internet. Otherwise, get good security software to do that. Make sure it is an Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware defender.
- Do regular back-ups.No one ever thinks anything bad will happen to them, until it does. I hope you never have ransomware infect your machine. But if it ever does, a good backup of your files somewhere safe will save the day. Everyone knows they need to back up their files. Now you have one more very good reason to do it.
I cannot express how important it is to help yourself in the war against ransomware, and just following these simple steps could be enough to keep you smiling in the event that you get an infection.