Chances are you have heard of the term “ransomware.” Ransomware is a type of scam undertaken by cybercriminals to steal money from victims. Criminals who practice this type of scheme are generally extortionists and frequently target online casinos, hospitals and even police stations. For the thieves, it’s a quick and easy way to profit. Ransomware attacks come as hackers target your computer or its files to lock them down so that you are unable to access them. This is a scary concept, especially as the thieves claim they will only unlock your computer or its files if you pay them a ransom. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can protect yourself against the threat of ransomware.
Back Up Everything
The first step toward protecting yourself against ransomware is to always back up your data. Do that on a daily basis so that, even if you are the target of a hacker, you will still have access to your data and won’t have to pay a hefty ransom amount to see it again.
You can further outwit ransomware thieves by backing up your data to cloud storage or an external hard drive that’s kept offline. That makes it impossible for the criminals to access the files. Avoid backing up to network shares because they are just as vulnerable to a ransomware attack as your computer in general.
It’s important to keep in mind that, even if you back up your data and your computer or network is still targeted by a ransomware attack, it could take a week or longer to restore everything back to normal.
Avoid Suspicious Emails and Clicking on Links
The main means by which a ransomware attack strikes a computer or a network is through a phishing attack. Phishing attacks rely on spam emails that usually contain a malicious link or attachment. Once the user clicks on the link or downloads the attachment, the malware infects their computer or network. From there, the ransomware takes its hold and blocks access to data.
The best way to protect yourself is to be smart anytime you spot a suspicious-looking email. If an email looks off, avoid it, mark it as spam and delete it immediately. You can often tell when email is suspicious by the address itself. For example, if you receive something that claims to be from the Apple Store that has a Gmail account, you should know right away that something isn’t right.
Patch and Block
Patch any security holes to prevent malware from getting into your system in the first place as well. This means you should update any third-party plug-ins such as Java and Flash. Ransomware thieves frequently detect these vulnerabilities and take advantage.
You can also block criminals’ access to your system by setting up an administrator password. If you have a network of computers, this is helpful because it ensures that if one server is locked by ransomware, the others are unaffected.
Disconnect if an Infection is Detected
Finally, if you do get hit with ransomware, the best thing you can do is immediately shut down any network operations to prevent it from spreading. Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on devices as well.
These are the key ways to protect yourself against a ransomware attack. Use common sense to thwart online thieves and check out our data security services.