What Is Ransomware: How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks?

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Ransomware is malicious software that has infected thousands of computers worldwide by encrypting them and demanding money to decrypt the encrypted files. Unfortunately, ransomware is such a kind of attack from which you can only recover by paying or cutting losses. Moreover, there is no assurance whether you will get the files back or not.

A ransomware attack pops up a note on your computer screen and locks up all your access to the computer files. A massive ransomware attack took place in May that infected computers in more than 200 countries. The ransomware named as WannaCry was one of the biggest ransomware attacks in the history of the internet that disrupted the working of computers in hospitals and many big organizations around the globe. However, lack of knowledge to prevent ransomware attacks is the cause due to which such attacks are continuously reported.

Therefore, a few weeks later Petya ransomware attack originated from Europe locking up computers in banks, hospitals, and other institutions.

Such ransomware attacks demonstrate that not only netizens but big organizations have failed to apply enough security measures to prevent ransomware attacks. This leads us to think about the preventive measures that will be required to keep computer systems protected from the malware attack.

How to prevent ransomware attacks?

If you work in a hospital and get hit by a ransomware attack then think about the massive information that is at risk. To protect against ransomware attack, knowledge is not only important for your computer but for the system that you use in your workplace. Some preventive measures are given below:

Install updates

When all the software on your computer is updated then there is the least risk of any kind of infection. If updates are not installed and vulnerabilities are not fixed then a malware can easily attack your system and exploit it.

The most unfortunate fact about the WannaCry ransomware was that a fix was already available for it. 8 weeks before the ransomware attack took place, Microsoft had released a patch for the WannaCry. This means that if people had installed the security updates then there would have been a lesser chance of infection.

Therefore, updates are very important to fix vulnerabilities and the users should stay vigilant about it. They should configure their PCs to automatic update. Updating the software is not only recommended for the Windows users but also for other operating systems such as Mac and Linux.

A number of malware exist that may infect different operating systems; hence it becomes necessary for all users to keep their operating systems updated with latest security patches.

Use anti-virus

Antivirus software is one of the most important preventive measures in keeping your computer protected from malware. Almost 30 percent of the popular antivirus applications were able to detect and neutralize the ransomware according to Mr. Kamden of NordVPN.

The same rule of updating applies to the antivirus software. Enabling Windows Defender Antivirus can detect the ransomware, keeping it updated will block any latest malware. Besides download antivirus apps only from the legitimate and known companies such as Malwarebytes, Kaspersky Lab or Bitdefender can also help you to get the latest protection.

Backup your files

Regularly backing up your files might seem a pain to you but it is one of the best solutions for ransomware. If in any case, a ransomware hits your system and encrypts all files; at least you will have all information backed up. USBs and external hard drive are where you can back up your files. Just remember to detach the hard drive from your computer once you have backed up because it might get infected too.

Another way of backup is Cloud storage yet using a high-level encryption server and multiple-factor authentication is recommended.

Be cautious of suspicious emails, websites, and apps.

Never click on the email attachments that you receive from the unknown person or company. Links in the email were the initial way by which WannaCry had infected machines according to Mr. Kamden.

The question here is that how will you detect if an email is fishy or not. Look at the address from where it is coming and whether it’s legitimate or not. Without clicking on the link in the email, just hover over the hyperlink and check whether it is directing you to any suspicious websites. Also, remember that if you receive an email from the bank and your credentials are demanded in it then never ever enter them as such legitimate organizations will never ask for sensitive information in an email.

Most often the ransomware developers use pop-up windows to advertise software products that remove malware. Never click on anything on these pop-ups and safely close the windows.

What to do if already infected?

If ransomware had already attacked you should first disconnect your computer from the internet so other machines do not get infected.  Then just report the cyber attack to the law enforcement. You can also take help from a technology professional who knows how to recover data and what options are left for you. Moreover, there are decryption tools available yet there is no guarantee that they will be able to deal with advanced versions of malware attacks by cyber criminals. Thus, preventions and backups are the most recommended.

Conclusion

Ransomware has brought extortion worldwide and the only way by which average users, as well as the business owners, can stay away from is by disrupting it.

You know that ransomware threats are now not just a simple phenomenon but it has become a business and a mode of earning. It is now not just a single man sitting alone in the basement but a whole well defined and a well-funded team that utilizes advanced tactics and social engineering techniques to produce the malware and ultimately get access to your computer. Also, nowadays cyber criminals are specifically being hired by large states to aim at financial, political and strategic objectives.

Yet, remember that you are not powerless. There are a handful of measures that can be taken to avoid ransomware. Stay vigilant and remember that backup is the finest solution.

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