The Ransomware is known to be one of the most dangerous malware to ever exist. This guide will offer a thorough and detailed explanation of how to protect yourself against it.
What is Ransomware?
The Ransomware is a kind of malware that upon infection encrypts the files of the victim, it then asks for a ransom to be paid in return for the decryption keys. Hence the name Ransom-Ware.
How does it spread?
The most common methods that cyber criminals use to infect people with the Ransomware virus include.
⦁ Shared networks
More specifically, phishing emails. Here is how it works.
The malicious code will get attached to a MS Word file in the form of a Macro so that it will be able to get executed. After that, the cyber-criminal will send the email to random people.
Chances are that this email will appear as something important, like information about a payment, a refund, an order, or anything along these lines. That arises the curiosity of the victim and makes him/her several times more likely to open the email and ignore the security warnings of MS Word.
Once the victim opens the email, he will be asked to enable macros. If he chooses to do so, the malicious code will get executed. The virus will get installed, and all of his files will get encrypted.
After one person gets infected, the virus will replicate itself to other computers that are connected to the same network.
Important note: Both of these methods will only work if we assume that the victim has not taken the required security precautions.
The most infamous Ransomware viruses such as the WannaCry, Locky, Cryptowall, Cryptolocker, and many more, infected thousands of people by using in combination these two methods. Luckily WannaCry didn’t target Windows 10 but other operating system were get infected. Microsoft quickly released security patches including Windows XP.
Ransomware Protection Tips
All in all, there are 5 steps that one must follow to stay safe from this virus. Those are to use.
⦁ Common sense
⦁ Anti-Malware programs
⦁ Antivirus programs
1. Common Sense
The use of common sense is probably the most important precaution against viruses that one can take. The title says it all.
If you see a suspicious email, do not open it unless you must absolutely do so and even then if you’re asked to do something that you wouldn’t have to normally do in your particular situation, you’re better off ignoring the email.
All in all, use your head. It’s the ultimate security tool against all viruses.
Having the latest updates can make the difference between getting infected out of nowhere and staying safe.
First of all, when Windows Updates are available, do perform them immediately or at least as fast as possible. Thousands of people got infected by the latest (at the time of writing) Ransomware called WannaCry only because they choose to postpone a Windows Update.
After that, you must also keep any other applications that you might have up to their latest updates. That is because any security exploits that were found could be used to infect you without you doing anything at all.
Security programs take priority, and the most widely used programs too. Some examples include Java and the Adobe Flash Player as they have been used many times before for hacking.
Ransomware viruses are not commonly using security exploits to infect you, but better be safe than sorry.
Don’t get confused now, this is still a protection guide. Backups must be kept “just in case” that something goes wrong. Once again, better be safe than sorry.
There are programs available on the internet such as Acronis that can backup your whole computer and restore it with a sickle click. So, in case that something goes wrong and you lose everything, you will be able to get it back with programs such as these.
If you’re someone who often has to deal with a bunch of new files, then this option might not be the best for you.
If you need to backup each file separately, you can do so by using an external HDD, the cloud, or anything that is not located locally on your PC.
In the event that you got infected, you lost your files, and you never kept backups, you could use a data restoration program like Recuva to restore the lost files. Chances are that this won’t work, so it’s always better to be prepared and keep backups instead.
As mentioned above, common sense is the best security tool that a person can have, but common sense does not necessarily come with knowledge and experience, in which case an Anti-Malware program can prove to be a lifesaver. The ideal Anti-Malware for protection against Ransomware needs to have real-time protection and behavioral analysis. The Anti-Malware that best worked for me is called MalwareFox.
Antivirus programs are not ideally the best tool that one can use against Ransomware, but any extra security is always appreciated. Not to mention that Anti-Malware programs are meant to work together with Antivirus programs.
For your average person, Windows Defender should be more than enough. But if you need some extra security on a particular spot, say, banking protection. However, we recommend a premium antivirus and keep it updated.
I hope these tips help you keep the computer protected from Ransomware and other kind of cyber threats.