Ransomware is malicious software that cyber criminals use to hold your computer and computer files for ransom, demanding payment from you to get them back. Sadly, ransomware is becoming an increasingly popular way for malware authors to extort money from companies and consumers alike. There is a variety of ransomware which can get into any person’s machine, but as always, those techniques either boil down to social engineering tactics or using software vulnerabilities to silently latch on a victim’s machine.
Threat of ransomware, where a crook locks your computer or encrypts your files and demands payment to release them, received a lot of attention in the past few days after the global WannaCry attack.
Here are five relatively simple things that even those who aren’t familiar with the working of computer can do to keep them protected from ransomware cyber attack.
1. Keep a Back Up of your files
The best defense is to outwit attackers by not being vulnerable to their threats in the first place. This means backing up important data daily, so that even if your computers and servers get locked, you won’t get access to your data like Copy photos and important documents to an external hard drive, jump drive or CD/DVD. You also can email them to yourself or upload them to an external cloud storage network or wireless device. You can also retrieve your entire computer as well and set “restore points” from which you can later restore your PC instead of starting from scratch. This one single regular activity will safe guard from many unexpected situations..
Use of Firewall to secure the network is a very important step and many SME neglect it. This enables protection from unauthorized dentry /access to the network.
3. Disable files running from AppData/Local App Data folders
You can create rules within Windows or with Intrusion Prevention Software, to disallow a particular, notable behavior used by Cryptolocker, which is to run its executable from the App Data or Local App Data folders. If (for some reason) you have legitimate software that you know is set to run not from the usual Program Files area but the App Data area, you will need to exclude it from this rule.
4 . Just Say No—To Suspicious Emails and Links
The primary method of infecting victims with ransomware involves every hacker’s favorite bait—the “spray-‘n’-pray” phishing attack, which involves spamming you with emails that carry a malicious attachment or instruct you to click on a URL where malware surreptitiously crawls into your machine. The recent ransomware attacks targeting Congressional members prompted the House IT staff to temporarily block access to Yahoo email accounts, which apparently were the accounts the attackers were phishing. But ransomware hackers have also adopted another highly successful method—malvertising—which involves compromising an advertiser’s network by embedding malware in ads that get delivered through web sites you know and trust. Businesses often are targeted with emails sent directly to employees in key positions who hold financial and personnel data. It is very important to to Teach them to identify scam emails. If there’s one family member responsible for keeping your home computer secure, they should teach other users how to spot scams, too.
5. Educate your employees
Employees can serve as a first line of defense to combat online threats and can actively help stop malware from infiltrating the organization’s system. A strong security program paired with employee education about the warning signs, safe practices, and responses aid tremendously in preventing these threats. There should be a constant effort towards educating people on how to identify and avoid such eventualities.
6. Update your computer’s operating system
Technology companies often send “patches” to fix known glitches or weak spots that hackers can exploit. By setting your system to update automatically, you should have the latest protections.
Finally, it should be noted that the recent rash of ransomware attacks has generated a lot of breathless news coverage, mainly because it is a departure from previous trends in financially motivated malware (which tended to be stealthy and thus not be data-damaging). Ransomware can certainly be frightening, but there are many problems that can cause just as much destruction. That is why it has always been, and always will be, best practice to protect yourself against data loss with regular backups. That way, no matter what happens, you will be able to restart your digital life quickly. It is our hope that if anything good can come out of this ransomware trend, it is an understanding of an importance of performing regular, frequent backups to protect our valuable data.