When you are attacked by ransomware or any encryption Trojan your data is encrypted, and your operating system is hijacked. Just like the concept of hostage and ransom, the ransomware holds your files as “digital hostage” and only releases them after payment have been made and this can be very frustrating.
To reduce the likelihood of finding yourself in front of a locked laptop or encrypted file, it is important to be prepared. The chances of infection can be significantly reduced both by using a security software and practicing good digital hygiene. By using anti-ransomware software, you can avoid situations in which you have to pay staggering sum of money for the possible release of your data. Ransomware infections can occur in various ways, such as visiting insecure and fraudulent websites, downloading cracked software and by clicking on untrusted links. Ransomware attacks are geared towards individuals and companies alike.
Security vulnerabilities – are you a potential target of a malware or ransomware attack?
There are several factors that might make you the target of a malware or ransomware attack.
- The device you are using is no longer state-of-the-art.
- The software running your device is outdated and needs an update.
- You pay less attention to your digital hygiene.
If one or more of these points apply to you, you are at risk of falling victim to a ransomware attack. A vulnerability scan can be performed by CITSYS EXPERTS with any of our wide range of security software like ESET, Kaspersky, Bitdefender, Panda, AVG and Avast. The software scans the device for possible security vulnerabilities in the operating system and other software on your computer. By identifying these vulnerabilities and fixing them, you and your computer are less likely to attacked.
Ways to prevent ransomware attacks: how to avoid becoming a victim.
- Never click on unsafe links: Avoid clicking on links in spam messages or on unknown websites. If you click on malicious links, an automatic download could be started, which could lead to your computer being infected.
- Avoid disclosing personal information: If you receive a call, text message, or email from an untrusted source requesting personal information, do not reply. Cybercriminals who are planning a ransomware attack might try to collect personal information in advance, which is then used to tailor phishing messages specifically to you. If in any doubt as to whether the message is legitimate, contact the sender directly.
- Do not open suspicious email attachments: Ransomware can also find its way to your device through email attachments. Avoid opening any dubious-looking attachments. To make sure the email is trustworthy, pay close attention to the sender and check that the address is correct. Never open attachments that prompt you to run macros to view them. If the attachment is infected, opening it will run a malicious macro that gives malware control of your computer.
- Never use unknown USB sticks: Never connect USB sticks or other storage media to your computer if you do not know where they came from. Cybercriminals may have infected the storage device and drop them in public places to entice you into using it.
- Keep your programs and operating system up to date: Regularly update programs and operating systems to protect you from any malware. When performing updates, make sure you benefit from the latest security patches. This makes it harder for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in your programs.
- Use only known download sources: To minimize the risk of downloading ransomware, never download software or media files from unknown sites.Rely on verified and trustworthy sites for downloads. Websites of this kind can be recognized by the trust seals. Make sure that the browser address bar of the page you are visiting uses “https” instead of “http”. A shield or lock symbol in the address bar can also indicate that the page is secure. Also exercise caution when downloading anything to your mobile device. You can trust the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, depending on your device.
- Use VPN services on public Wi-Fi networks: Conscientious use of public Wi-Fi networks is a sensible protective measure against ransomware. When using a public Wi-Fi network, your computer is more vulnerable to attacks. To stay protected, avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions or use a secure VPN service.
- Use Proofpoint or Mimecast to protect your emails from Spam, Viruses, and Infected attachments.
Anti-malware software – what are the benefits?
In addition to these infection-prevention measures, it is also essential to use appropriate software to protect against malware/ransomware infection. For example, using virus scanners and content filters on your mail servers is a smart way to prevent ransomware. These programs reduce the risk of spam with malicious attachments or infected links reaching your mailbox.
We would recommend the ESET Internet Security Solution. This software has the ability to block infected files when you download or stream off the internet, thus providing real-time protection. It also prevents ransomware from infecting your computer and keeps cybercriminals at bay.
Regularly update your internet security solution to take advantage of the best and latest protection it has to offer. Each update contains the latest security patches and improves protection against ransomware.
Protection against ransomware – what companies should pay attention to
Ransomware attacks are by no means only a threat to individuals. In fact, companies are frequently targeted both large and small and medium-sized enterprises fall victim to ransomware attacks. They usually have poor security systems and are therefore particularly attractive targets for attackers. Below is a list of factors that should be considered by companies wanting to avoid ransomware infection.
- Always stay up to date with the latest operating system software – in the corporate environment too. Experience shows (example, WannaCry 2017) that companies that neglect this area are particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks. · Raise employee awareness – Humans are the weakest link — 88% of all data breaches result from human error. Ensure your staff develops muscle memory to identify and thwart phishing attempts.
- Be prepared – make sure there is a plan in case of ransomware infection.
- Consider cloud technologies if you haven’t done so already. The advantage over on-premises systems are that vulnerabilities in cloud-based architectures are more difficult to exploit. In addition, cloud storage solutions allow you to restore older versions of your files. This means that if the files are encrypted by ransomware, you should be able to return to an unencrypted version using cloud storage.
- Backups – even in business environments, it is important to always back up business-critical data to external devices. Responsibility for this essential task should be clearly stated and communicated.
- Distribution – initially, spam emails were considered the main point of attack. While these have not lost their relevance today, VPN vulnerabilities and distribution over botnets are now also common.
- Use Anti-Malware Solutions such as: ESET, Kaspersky, AVG Anti-Virus and Sentinelone
When it comes to combating ransomware, careful action, and the deployment of strong security software, as with other forms of malware, are a step in the right way. Backups are especially important when dealing with this form of infection since they allow you to be properly prepared even in the worst-case situation. If you become a victim of a ransomware attack despite these precautions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly assist you.