3 Tips on How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

January 10, 2016

6:03 pm

Ransomware is a malevolent software that locks files or a computer until they pay a specified amount of money to have them unlocked. Criminals use ransomware to hold computer files for ransom. They demand money to have your computer or file unlocked. It has become a popular way for malware developers to extract money from organizations and consumers alike. There are varieties of ransomware that can get to a person’s machine and these techniques can either roll down to using software vulnerabilities or social engineering tactics to install silently on a victim’s computer.

Cryptolocker

Lately, there is a ransomware threat that has been on the news called Cryptolocker. The authors of the malicious software have been emailing to many people targeting the UK and US in particular. This malware has been associated with adverse factors including password-stealers, add clickers and backdoor Trojans like a notorious criminal. Cryptolocker often comes by email alone or by way of the downloader, backdoor, and brought along as additional components. The reason Cryptolocker has become notorious is because its authors are both persistent and nimble. Keeping up with the changes in technology, there has been the effort to pump out new variants that target different groups over time. As most of the groups targeted are the US and UK residents, there is no geographical limit to those who can be affected as numerous people outside the two countries have been affected.

This malware can also be spread through RDP Ports that have been open by email to the internet. They can also affect user files on mapped drives on your computer. It is estimated that the criminals have sent millions of emails, but close to ten thousand machines have been affected. It is assumed that the remaining millions of emails have been deleted by recipients. Once the data has been encrypted on your computer, you cannot decrypt the files since the criminals are the ones with the private keys. According to Blue Coat, mobile attacks are now more vicious, insidious and malicious. The research Blue Coat conducted shows pornography websites and WebAd networks as the top two sources for ransomware and modern malware.

Ransomware can be very scary as the encrypted files can be considered damaged beyond repair. It will, however, be nothing more than a nuisance if your system is adequately prepared. Here are the three top steps keep you away from ransomware.

1. Back Up Your Data

This is the biggest thing that always defeats ransomware. You should have a frequently updated backup. On a single attack of ransomware, you can lose even the most recent file or data on your machine but with regular backup, you can restore your system to or clean up your computer and restore from the backup. Backup includes external drives like USB flash drives, cloud information stores and network stores that are mapped. A regular backup regimen is what is required to a backup service or external drive is what is required.

2. Use a Trustworthy Security Software

It is always a brilliant idea to have a software firewall and anti-malware software to help you identify suspicious or threats behaviors. The malware authors send new variants frequently to avoid detection. That is the reason it is important to have all the layers of protection. If you combat malware that has passed the anti-malware software, it will be caught by a firewall when it tries to connect with command and control server to receive encrypting instructions to your files. If you may have run the malware without your knowledge, then your options are limited you can save a few files. If the ransomware in question is a Cryptolocker, then there are a few things that can be done to mitigate the damage.

3. Disconnect from WiFi or Network Immediately

If you run a suspicious software, but you have not seen the ransomware characteristics, you should act fast as you will be able to stop the communication with the command and control server before your files are all encrypted. You might mitigate the damage if you disconnect immediately from the network as it takes some time to encrypt all data. You may be lucky to move faster than the malware, but disconnecting from the network is better in doing than sitting and watch.

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Dennis Hung is an entrepreneur and product analyst specializing in mobile technology and IoT. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America.

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