With the recent WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks that crippled thousands of organisations around the world, FraudWatch International felt it was worthwhile to recap some of the steps both individuals and businesses can take to protect against ransomware attacks. In this week’s article, we will detail some of the areas consumers can look at. Next week we will focus on what measures businesses can put in place to protect their data.
There are no guarantees in life, but there are things that individuals can do to minimise the risk of being infected with ransomware. In the event that someone is infected with ransomware, they can also take steps to minimise the impact and damage the attack will cause.
Back up your files regularly
The biggest trauma people suffer as the victim of a ransomware attack, is loss of data. Losing those precious pictures of family events, or the documents you have been meticulously saving over the years, can be devastating.
The best way to protect your important files is to regularly back up the data on your devices to an external hard drive that isn’t connected to the internet or a LAN (Local Area Network). If you have regular backups scheduled, you won’t lose as much to the hackers.
This will make recovering from an attack much easier, as the data is not lost forever like it usually would be.
Use antivirus software
Antivirus software has been around for a long time and it is your best first line of defence. Good antivirus programs can scan files to check for ransomware before they are downloaded onto your computer. They can block hidden installations from occurring without your knowledge while you are browsing the web, and they can also detect any malicious software you may already have on your computer or device.
Another good tip is to ensure your web security is up-to-date, so it is not even possible to visit malicious websites from your computer.
Always install updates
Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in software to spread their ransomware. Software developers often release software updates to fix these vulnerabilities once they are identified. It is important that you download the latest updates for the software you use, to eliminate those vulnerabilities on your computer and devices, otherwise you leave yourself open to being attacked.
Be suspicious of all electronic content
Hackers rely on the gullibility of their targets to download their malicious ransomware software, thus allowing them to launch their attack and encrypt the victim’s files. Their preferred methods of distribution are through emails, malicious adverts on websites, and dodgy apps or software.
Users need to be vigilant when opening unsolicited emails or visiting websites they are unfamiliar with. NEVER download an app from anywhere other than an official store, and ALWAYS read reviews before installing programs.
Never pay the ransom
In the unfortunate event that you are hit by ransomware, FraudWatch International’s advice is to never pay the ransom! Doing so will only encourage hackers to continue their malicious work, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to recover your files anyway. There are a few programs that can offer the hope of decrypting files, however, your best solution is to reformat your computer, recover your files from backups and learn how to avoid it happening again.
Next week, we will cover some best practices that businesses can adopt to ensure they have optimal protection against ransomware.