Businesses that understand how to prevent ransomware significantly reduce their online vulnerability. This cyberattack scheme doesn’t garner nearly as much attention as more common malware, but it can be even more debilitating. Ransomware attacks are so polished that many larger financial institutions have dedicated call centers to handle these data breaches.
So what is ransomware? Ransomware stops you from using your PC, files, or programs. The business model is as old as the earliest kidnapping. They hold your data, software, or entire PC hostage until you pay them a ransom to get it back. What happens is that you suddenly have no access to a program or file, and a screen appears announcing your files are encrypted and that you need to pay (usually in bitcoins) to regain access. There may even be a Doomsday-style clock counting down the time you have to pay or lose everything.
Ransomware can be especially insidious because backups may not offer complete protection against these criminals. Such new schemes illustrate why you need to have a professional security service that can keep you up to date on the cyber world’s latest criminal activities. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide on how to prevent ransomware and how to respond to a potential data breach.
This section gives you tips on preventing ransomware attacks from never clicking on unverified links to avoid using unfamiliar USBs. Read on to learn more about ransomware prevention.
Never click on unverified links
Avoid clicking links in spam emails or on unfamiliar websites. Downloads that start when you click on malicious links is one way that your computer could get infected.
Once the ransomware is on your computer, it will encrypt your data or lock your operating system. Once the ransomware has something to hold as ‘hostage,’ it will demand a ransom so that you can recover your data. Paying these ransoms may seem like the simplest solution. However, this is exactly what the perpetrator wants you to do, and paying these ransoms does not guarantee they will give you access to your device or your data back.
Do not open untrusted email attachments
Another way that ransomware could get onto your computer is through an email attachment.
Do not open email attachments from senders you do not trust. Look at who the email is from and confirm that the email address is correct. Be sure to assess whether an attachment looks genuine before opening it. If you’re not sure, contact the person you think has sent it and double-check.
Never open attachments that ask you to enable macros to view them. If the attachment is infected, opening it will run the malicious macro, giving the malware control over your computer.
Only download from sites you trust
To increase your chances of how to prevent ransomware, do not download software or media files from unknown websites.
Go to verified, trusted sites if you want to download something. Most reputable websites will have markers of trust that you can recognize. Just look in the search bar to see if the site uses ‘https’ instead of ‘http.’ A shield or lock symbol may also show in the address bar to verify that the site is secure.
If you’re downloading something on your phone, make sure you download it from reputable sources. For example, Android phones should use the Google Play Store to download apps, and iPhone users should use the App Store.
Avoid giving out personal data
If you receive a call, text, or email from an untrusted source that asks for personal information, do not give it out.
Cybercriminals planning a ransomware attack may try to gain personal data in advance of an attack. They can use this information in phishing emails to target you specifically.
The aim is to lure you into opening an infected attachment or link. Do not let the perpetrators get hold of data that makes their trap more convincing.
If you get contacted by a company asking for information, ignore the request, and contact the company independently to verify it is genuine.
Use mail server content scanning and filtering
Using content scanning and filtering on your mail servers is a smart way to prevent ransomware.
This software reduces the likelihood of a spam email containing malware-infected attachments or links from reaching your inbox.
Never use unfamiliar USBs
Never insert USBs or other removal storage devices into your computer if you do not know where they came from.
Cybercriminals may have infected the device with ransomware and left it in a public space to lure you into using it.
Keep your software and operating system updated
Keeping your software and operating system updated will help protect you from malware. Because when you run an update, you ensure that you benefit from the latest security patches, making it harder for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in your software.
Use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi
Being cautious with public Wi-Fi is a sensible method on how to prevent ransomware.
When you use public Wi-Fi, your computer system is more vulnerable to attack. To better learn how to prevent ransomware, avoid using public Wi-Fi for confidential transactions, or use a secure VPN.
Use security software
As cybercrime becomes more widespread, ransomware protection has never been more essential. Protect your computer from ransomware with a comprehensive internet security solution like Kaspersky Internet Security.
When you download or stream, our software blocks infected files, preventing ransomware from infecting your computer and keeping cybercriminals at bay.
Keep security software updated
To benefit from the highest level of protection that internet security software has to offer, ensure you keep it updated. Each update will include the latest security patches and maximize ransomware prevention.
Backup your data
Should you experience a ransomware attack, your data will remain safe if it is backed up. Make sure to keep everything copied on an external hard drive but be sure not to leave it connected to your computer when not in use. If the hard drive is plugged in when you become a victim of a ransomware attack, this data will also be encrypted.
Additionally, cloud storage solutions allow you to revert to previous versions of your files. Therefore, if they become encrypted by ransomware, you should be able to return to an unencrypted version via cloud storage.
How to respond to ransomware attacks
Now you know how to prevent ransomware, what if you have already become the victim of a ransomware attack?
In the event of a ransomware attack, it is important to know what to do. Here are some simple steps to follow to minimize damage.
Isolate your computer
If you experience a ransomware attack, the first thing to do is to disconnect from networks and the internet.
Disconnecting in this way isolates your computer and minimizes the ransomware infection from spreading to other computers.
Never pay the ransom
Do not pay any ransom demanded by the cybercriminals carrying out the ransomware attack.
Like a real-life hostage situation, it is best not to negotiate with cybercriminals. Paying the ransom will not guarantee the return of your data — after all, these individuals have already manipulated your trust.
Caving in and paying also encourages this sort of crime. The more people that pay the ransoms, the more popular ransomware attacks become.
Ransomware removal guide
Even businesses that are well-prepared on how to prevent ransomware can still fall prey to these data breaches. If you’re dealing with this type of malware, follow the ransomware removal steps below to recover.
Step 1: Disconnect from the internet
First up, disconnect from the internet to stop the ransomware from spreading to other devices.
Step 2: Run a scan using internet security software
Use the internet security software you have installed to run a scan. This will help to identify any threats. If it detects any risky files, they can be removed or quarantined.
Step 3: Use the ransomware decryption tool
If your computer gets infected with encryption ransomware, you will need to use a ransomware decryptor to decrypt your files and data so that you can reaccess them.
At Kaspersky, we continually research the latest ransomware forms to create ransomware decryptors to counter each new threat.
Step 4: Restore files from backup
If you have backed up your data externally or on cloud storage, restore a clean backup of all your files on your computer. This allows you to revert to a version of the software that is malware-free.
If you don’t have a backup, then clearing your computer and recovering your files will be a lot harder. To prevent this from happening, we recommend regularly backing up your data. This is a critical step in how to prevent ransomware from disrupting your business. If you’re prone to forgetting, then take advantage of automatic cloud backup services or set up calendar reminders for yourself.
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About Cinch I.T.
Since 2004, Cinch I.T. has been providing customer-focused I.T. services for businesses of all sizes. Every element of our computer support offers the fastest and friendliest service in the industry. Cinch is one of the nation’s fastest-growing I.T. support franchises with 7 locations and counting. To learn more, visit cinchit.com. For more information about I.T. franchise opportunities, visit cinchfranchise.com.
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