Locky, WannaCry, Petya – these are just three flavors of ransomware that were a menace to computers around the world. Usually, the ransomware bad guys are baiting users to click on infected email links or to open infected attachments – then the attack starts. A message is displayed on the screen and victims are asked to pay a ransom in virtual currency, most of the time bitcoins.
But do not despair – there are a couple of things you can do in order to not get infected and lose all your data. Here are 5 tips to avoid getting hit by ransomware:
1. Back up your data regularly
This is one of the best things you can actually do. Back up your data – store your information on a drive that’s not connected to your PC or network. That way potential attackers will lose their leverage over you: What’s not on your PC or reachable via your network cannot be encrypted by the malware, and therefor is not lost to you.
2. Update and patch your systems
Malware creators count on people running outdated software with certain vulnerabilities, which they can exploit to get into your system. That’s why it is extremely important to keep your device updated. It dramatically reduces the risk of having your computer infected. Enable automatic updates if possible or use a Software Updater that does the work for you.
3. Use an antivirus software and a firewall
It’s useful to have both: a software to protect you from malware and a firewall. They will help you to identify threats or suspicious behavior. Malware creators frequently update their work in order to avoid detection so you should take both preventive measures. In case you have already clicked on malware, your options are limited. An antivirus could potentially still help, but you might lose data in the process, depending on the kind of infection.
4. Train yourself and those around you
Security starts between the headphones – that’s true for you and everyone using your computer. Train yourself and others to not click on questionable links or suspicious attachments. Also, it’s important that system administrators limit employee access to only parts of the network that are critical to their work. This reduces the risk of having a network infected with ransomware.
And never forget …
The bad guys will try to keep your files encrypted until you pay the ransom. But you shouldn’t do that. Ransom payments only reward the bad guys and give them the resources needed to make other attacks. Also, paying up doesn’t necessarily mean that you will recover the locked data – most of the time the criminals will take the money and leave you stranded.
So, keeping this advice in mind and applying it will help you keep one step ahead of the ransomware attackers. Until you leave your guard down …