15 Items to Check if You Want To Keep Your System Safe From Ransomware
This is a promise that I want you to make to yourself: that you will take the threat of ransomware seriously and do something about it before it hits your data.
I’ve seen too many cries for help and too many people confused and panicking about a ransomware attack.
How I wish I could say that ransomware is not a life and death kind of situation! But if you work in a hospital and you trigger a crypto-ransomware infection, it could actually endanger lives. Learning how to prevent ransomware attacks is a need-to-have set of knowledge and you can do it both at home and at work.
So here’s what I want you to promise me:
Locally, on the PC
1. I don’t store important data only on my PC.
2. I have 2 backups of my data: on an external hard drive and in the cloud – Dropbox/Google Drive/etc.
3. The Dropbox/Google Drive/OneDrive/etc. application on my computer are not turned on by default. I only open them once a day, to sync my data, and close them once this is done.
4. My operating system and the software I use is up to date, including the latest security updates.
5. For daily use, I don’t use an administrator account on my computer. I use a guest account with limited privileges.
6. I have turned off macros in the Microsoft Office suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
In the browser
7. I have removed the following plugins from my browsers: Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java and Silverlight. If I absolutely have to use them, I set the browser to ask me if I want to activate these plugins when needed.
8. I have adjusted my browsers’ security and privacy settings for increased protection.
9. I have removed outdated plugins and add-ons from my browsers. I only kept the ones I use on a daily basis and I keep them updated to the latest version.
10. I use an ad blocker to avoid the threat of potentially malicious ads.
11. I never open spam emails or emails from unknown senders.
12. I never download attachments from spam emails or suspicious emails.
13. I never click links in spam emails or suspicious emails.
Anti-ransomware security tools
14. I use a reliable, paid antivirus product that includes an automatic update module and a real-time scanner.
15. I understand the importance of having a traffic-filtering solution that can provide proactive anti-ransomware protection.
How to get your data back without paying the ransom
There hundreds of types of ransomware out there, but cyber security researchers are working around the clock to break the encryption that at least some of them use. Unfortunately, the most notorious families have proven to be unbreakable so far. In spite of this, there are many other cryptoware strains that are not that well coded and which specialists were able to crack.
To help you find a solution to recover your data without further funding ransomware creators, we put together a sizeable list of ransomware decryption tools which you can use.
We recommend you read about how these tools works beforehand, so that you’re sure that this is the best solution for your case.
Do keep in mind that decryptors could become obsolete because of constant updates and new, enhanced versions released by cyber criminals. It’s a never-ending battle, which is why we urge you to focus on prevention and having multiple backups for your data.
Ransomware brought extortion to a global scale, and it’s up to all of us, users, business-owners and decision-makers, to disrupt it.
We now know that:
- creating malware or ransomware threats is now a business and it should be treated as such;
- the “lonely hacker in the basement” stereotype died long time ago;
- the present threat landscape is dominated by well defined and well funded groups that employ advanced technical tools and social engineering skills to access computer systems and networks;
- even more, cyber criminal groups are hired by large states to target not only financial objectives, but political and strategic interests.
We also know that we’re not powerless and there’s a handful of simple things we can do to avoid ransomware. Cyber criminals have as much impact over your data and your security as you give them.
Stay safe and don’t forget the best protection is always a backup!