Ransomware viruses are a nightmare. On May 12, 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attacks locked down 230,000 computers. The hackers behind the cybercrime authored the virus through a vulnerability in Windows. The ransomware virus locked down their computers and asked for payments in Bitcoin for ransomware removal through a pop-up. Learn how you can avoid this happening to you.
How to Avoid A Ransomware Virus
1. Avoid going to the shadier areas of the Internet
Cybercriminals inject code in vulnerable websites which direct Internet browsers to infected sites where they stash the ransomware virus. In order to protect your computer, you will need to be wiser in terms of choosing what sites to browse. Also, if the site is a little shady or questionable, follow your intuition and don’t go there.
2. Mind who you communicate with over email
In order to put ransomware into your system, hackers need to perform a con for you to unwittingly install it on your computer. This psychological manipulation is called social engineering. If someone you don’t know emails you and is asking you to click a link, don’t do it. Always question who is sending you the email, what their purpose is, and how they got to know your email address.
@_shasisingh may very well have become a victim of social engineering by hackers. Good thing he had the sense to ask:
— लड्डू के भईया #HTL (@_shashisingh) May 31, 2017
3. Educate your family and co-workers
According to Heimdal Security, Hackers love targeting businesses because enterprises live on their data like customer records, financial transactions, and documents. It’s good that you know how to avoid ransomware yourself, but it’s no good to your company if your workers get duped by social engineering. The best way to protect your company’s system or your family’s data is to keep everyone on the same page regarding information security.
4. Always install updates for your computer
Operating systems always have holes called vulnerabilities which software developers “patch” up. When the WannaCry hackers took advantage of a vulnerability used by the NSA as a back-channel into Windows, Microsoft quickly worked on a patch for this gap to protect its users. In case you don’t know why you must regularly update your computer, updates aren’t just about shiny features you don’t understand, they are also for your security.
— Darrell as a Service (@DarrellaaS) July 29, 2015
5. Install a pop-up blocker
The FBI mentioned on their blog that users should use pop-up blockers on their computer to protect themselves against ransomware. This advice makes sense since ransomware is also delivered through pop-ups. Enabling your pop-ups closes one avenue for this malware to infect your computer.
6. Always update your anti-virus programs
Much like operating systems, anti-viruses also get updated to meet newer threats. As cyber-criminals become more inventive, security companies rise up to the challenge and develop more solutions. So, this is why you should always update your anti-virus programs because they house the answers to newer threats.
7. Create data backups
Let’s face it. Even if we’re the most vigilant and careful user and even if we have the most updated system there is, hackers will always find a loophole or a way around systems. The best defense for ransomware is to have a backup of your data outside your computer or your office’s system. Then, once infection sets in, you can just reformat your computer and use your backup. This way you don’t have to pay the ransom, and you can keep your peace of mind.
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In this digital age, most of our data is stored in our computers, digital devices or the cloud, among others. Unfortunately, digital does not equate to security. Don’t let anyone kidnap your data. Just follow these tips and be alert – your vigilance is your system’s best protection yet.