Ransomware protection jumps to the front of our mind each time there is a major incident. Individuals and small business owners can feel outmatched when they see even the world’s largest companies fall prey to attacks. Luckily, there are a number of things anyone can do to greatly reduce the chances of a ransomware infection.
1. Install Antivirus Software
Running antivirus software is the first thing you can do to head off ransomware threats. The best antivirus companies search for malware in production so they can protect you before an attempted attack is ever launched.
Of course, keeping your antivirus software updated is crucial. That brings us to our next task.
2. Keep All Software Up-to-Date
Hackers use tools called exploit kits to search software for a weakness. When they find one, they can infect your computer with all sorts of malware.
Luckily, software companies search for these weaknesses too. When they find a vulnerability, they offer updates to consumers. If you don’t regularly update your software, you’re leaving these holes unpatched.
One of the reasons the recent WannaCry ransomware attack spread so easily was because it exploited a vulnerability in unsupported Windows operating systems. Using unsupported software means that the software maker no longer looks for or patches weaknesses. While many people have good reasons for using older software, doing so increases your odds of a cyberattack.
3. Good Internet Hygiene = Good Ransomware Protection
Using common sense on the internet is one of the keys to ransomware protection. We know that malware spreads through email attachments, pop-up ads, and malicious links.
Ransomware almost always requires an unwise action on the part of the victim. If you don’t download an infected attachment or click a malicious link, the ransomware program can’t install itself.
For this reason, we recommend never clicking on suspicious email attachments–even when they appear to be from someone you know. If something looks suspicious, contact the sender and confirm that the attachment is legitimate.
4. Back Up Your Data
Removing ransomware from a computer is relatively easy. The power that attackers have comes through holding your files hostage.
If you have current backups, you can simply reinstall your operating system, programs, and files. Having backup copies takes the power away from the attackers and gives you plenty of options.
What to Do if Ransomware Has Already Infected Your Computer
If you suspect that ransomware has infected your computer, disconnect all media and turn off your computer. Doing so may keep the ransomware from encrypting any more files on hard drives or network drives.
Contact a data recovery expert to see if they can save files that are not yet or only partially encrypted. For less-sophisticated strains of ransomware, you can find free decrypters offered by security companies.
Ransomware protection requires vigilance, but it doesn’t have to stress you out. Follow these simple steps, and you can protect yourself from the headache of ransomware.