Ransomware is malware that locks your computer and mobile devices or encrypts your electronic files. When this happens, you can’t get to the data unless you pay a ransom. However this is not guaranteed and you should never pay!
Here are the basics:
- Back-up! Back-up! Back-up! Have a recovery system in place so a ransomware infection can’t destroy your personal data forever. It’s best to create two back-up copies: one to be stored in the cloud (remember to use a service that makes an automatic backup of your files) and one to store physically (portable hard drive, thumb drive, extra laptop, etc.). Disconnect these from your computer when you are done. Your back up copies will also come in handy should you accidentally delete a critical file or experience a hard drive failure.
- Use robust antivirus / end point security software to protect your system from ransomware. Do not switch off the ‘heuristic functions’ as these help the solution to catch samples of ransomware that have not yet been formally detected.
- Keep all the software on your computer up to date. When your operating system (OS) or applications release a new version, install it. And if the software offers the option of automatic updating, take it.
- Trust no one. Literally. Any account can be compromised and malicious links can be sent from the accounts of friends on social media, colleagues or an online gaming partner. Never open attachments in emails from someone you don’t know. Cybercriminals often distribute fake email messages that look very much like email notifications from an online store, a bank, the police, a court or a tax collection agency, luring recipients into clicking on a malicious link and releasing the malware into their system.
- Enable the ‘Show file extensions’ option in the Windows settings on your computer. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files. Stay away from file extensions like ‘.exe’, ‘.vbs’ and ‘.scr’. Scammers can use several extensions to disguise a malicious file as a video, photo, or document (like hot-chics.avi.exe or doc.scr).
- If you discover a rogue or unknown process on your machine, disconnect it immediately from the internet or other network connections (such as home Wi-Fi) — this will prevent the infection from spreading.
- You must have some robust Unified Threat Management hardware in place!
- Change your behaviour and that of those working with you.
Keep in mind that even if paying the ransom might give you back access to your data, it can also leave a backdoor open for the attacker to access your computer at any time.
Speak to a member of our IT Team and prevent being the next victim. Call us on 0345 450 9393 opt 1. We CAN help.