Issue: How to Protect Your PC From Ransoware Attack?
I’m hearing things about people getting into severe problems after ransomware attack and desperately fear to fall for a victim as well. Could you please tell me what I should do to harden my PC’s security and protection against ransomware?
A 21st century without the Internet can hardly be imagined. People are spending hours on the virtual world both for the leisure and work. Despite having loads of advantages, the biggest disadvantage of the Internet is the security. Through the past decades, hackers developed thousands of computer infections improved hacking techniques, which is why browsing the Internet is getting more and more dangerous. 2016 has been dubbed as the year of ransomware, and the predictions for 2017 are even worse. It is expected that the number of ransomware viruses circulating on the Internet may increase 30% or even more, the new hybrid versions or ransomware featuring innovative encryption methods may occur on the market and so on. In a nutshell, this kind of cyber threat is not going to stop and is expected to become even more dangerous. That’s why it’s vital to take particular precautionary measures to protect your PC from ransomware attacks.
Currently, two types of ransomware are spreading around – encryption ransomware and lock screen ransomware. The first one modifies personal information stored on the system by encoding it and attaching a particular file extension. Consequently, a PC user cannot access files like photos, videos, documents, and other. The latter ransomware type prevents a PC user from accessing the PC at all. The PC user cannot access anything on the system because the system displays the lock screen only. Typically, ransomware virus spreads via fake/unsafe websites or malicious email attachments. However, you may also download CryptoLocker, Locky, WannaCryptor or any other infection by clicking on a malicious link on Facebook, Twitter or Skype. Usually, it’s not possible to crack the malicious ransomware code, which is why to unlock personal data or PC people spend hundreds of dollars. Unfortunately, but hackers are not reliable people who would always keep their promises. Many ransomware victims were deceived to transfer the money for the decryption key, but the key has never been sent to them leaving all the personal data encrypted forever. That’s why security experts do not recommend paying the ransom. The best that you can do is to protect your computer from ransomware attack in advance by taking the following precautions:
Install a professional anti-malware
The supplement of anti-virus tools is wide. However, sometimes it may be difficult to decide which one would be powerful enough to fight against ransomware. When looking for a proper tool, you should pay attention to its virus detection rate and, most importantly, behavioral detection. If you use an anti-malware tool which features reduced behavioral detection, your PC will hardly be protected from ransomware, especially from the new ones.
Create backups regularly
Both single PC users and enterprise users have to take responsibility for the protection of important documents and other data. The one and the only way to ensure the 100% protection from ransomware is to create file backups regularly. For this purpose, use a remote, unconnected backup or storage facility, such as USB drive, an external hard drive, CD, DVD or cloud storage (OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.).
If you will keep the most sensitive data, such as documents or photos, backed up, dealing with a ransomware infection will be as easy as pie. You will have to remove the ransomware by running a full system scan with an anti-virus and then restore the data using backups. Unfortunately, if you have zero backups, then the consequences will be sad – you will either lose a considerable amount of money or a piece of sensitive data.
Keep the system optimized
To decrease system’s vulnerability, make sure that it’s fully optimized. It means that you should install updates regularly (including software, hardware, security, etc. updates) and check for damaged/corrupted/missing system files, registries, and similar issues. For this purpose, Reimage could be a good helper.
Enable spam filters
Most ransomware attacks are executed via infected spam email attachments. Therefore, to protect your PC from infections, make sure to enable spam filter on your email account. Gmail, Outlook and other popular vendors over the spam filter feature for free.
Besides, if you receive an email from an unknown sender and notice several grammar/type mistakes, we would recommend you to double-check the sender and the content of the email. NEVER open the attachment if you have doubts that the email may be compromised.
Enable file extensions
When the file extensions are disabled, people cannot see the file type when viewing a folder. Therefore, hackers often name the files executing ransomware virus as the word, excel or PDF files. However, if you would enable file extensions, you would see the name of a file with a double file extension, for example, invoice-2017.pdf.exe. In this case, you should NOT open that file because it’s ransomware.