The Most Effective Ways to Prevent and Remove RansomwareMay 5, 2020
How protected are you against ransomware attacks? Ransomware, of course, is a type of malware (malicious software) which criminals use to extort money. It holds data to ransom using encryption or by locking users out of their device.
Ransomware is typically delivered via emails that link to internet downloads with corrupted or compromised websites, or infected file attachments (most commonly, PDFs). The danger is how ordinary and unassuming these emails can be to the untrained eye, and a single click can open a pandora’s box of hostile software.
Once your computer is infected, ransomware spreads quickly throughout your network, and you are more at risk if you’re without the proper protections or have an outdated IT environment.
The culprit of a ransomware attack gains access to the end user’s network typically pretending to be a trusted security agency ready to conduct a must-have PC repair, or posing as a facetious identity to gain access to your important credentials. Once attackers gain entrance, they immediately seize control and lock the end user out of their device. No encryption takes place, but users are simply unable to continue their daily tasks unless they pay the requested ransom.
How can I protect myself from ransomware?
Stay clear of the overtly urgent email. Emails with subject lines that require immediate action and are not articulate are often attackers setting up a ransomware attack. The false sense of urgency is a purposeful tactic to scare users into acting on the prompt without taking the time to think.
Keep a backup. You should make it a habit to backup critical files often, and encourage your clients to do the same. Onsite backups connected to your network are more vulnerable, which is why it’s best to use an off-site backup when you can. Multiple recovery methods helps to ensure that you can restore and access business-critical documents in the event of an attack.
Rely on firewall and VPNs. While firewalls are designed to inhibit a variety of viruses from entering your network, they are especially useful when it comes to preventing ransomware attacks before they happen. In addition, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) anytime you’re using public Wi-Fi is also integral to protection. Unsecure and public connections are breeding grounds for attackers and are the perfect environments for attackers to wreak havoc on your systems.
Be vigilant. In many cases, attacks can be spotted by hovering your mouse over links embedded within the body of the email. If a link address appears strange or questionable, don’t click it—that’s a red flag you have an attacker on your hands. You should also be hyperaware of misspellings and false emails that pretend to be members of your company or organization. Always check the actual email and not just the display name in your inbox to ensure the sender is who they claim to be.
Responding to Ransomware Attacks
Isolate your system. If you experience a ransomware attack, the first thing to do is to disconnect from any networks and the internet. By doing so, you effectively isolate your computer and minimize the chance of the ransomware infection spreading to other systems.
Don’t pay the ransom. It is in your best interests to not to negotiate with cyber attackers. Paying the ransom will not guarantee the return of your data — after all these individuals have already manipulated your trust and have no incentive to give your data and access back to you. By negotiating or paying the ransom, you’re also encouraging this sort of crime. The more people that pay the ransoms, the more popular ransomware attacks become.
Begin the removal process ASAP. To remove ransomware from your system, follow the following steps:
- Disconnect from the internet. This stops ransomware from spreading across your network to other devices.
- Use your security client to run a scan. This will help to identify any threats. If it detects any risky files, they can be removed or quarantined.
- Utilize a decryption tool, if necessary. If your computer gets infected with encryption ransomware, you will need to use a ransomware decryptor to decrypt your files and data so to return your access.
- Restore your data from a backup. If you have backed up your data externally or on cloud storage, you should make sure to restore a clean backup of all your files on your computer. This ensures that you are using a version of the software that is malware free.
– Vikash Dass
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