How to Avoid Ransomware: A Few Simple Tips

How to Avoid Ransomware: A Few Simple Tips

The internet has become an integral part of our lives. Millions of people go online every day, searching for new ways to work, communicate, and belong. While we all have different tastes, interests, and favorite websites, it’s important to stay vigilant every time you go online. Cyber criminals are out there too, analyzing online behavior of every-day users and looking for new opportunities to infect computers. Let common sense (and a few security measures) prevail! Just by following a few simple steps, you can protect your system from being infected even if ransomware slips through inside your computer. Follow these 11 simple tips and spread the word. Together we can make the internet a safer place.

Perform regular backups

Regular full image backups are the ultimate way to mitigate ransomware attacks. Critical files should have regular backup with a minimal interval, preferably to a secure cloud storage provided by your backup vendor. However, you need to check with your vendor to make sure that the cloud backup is protected against ransomware.

Enable Acronis Active Protection™ option in your backup

Modern backup software has inbuilt real-time protection against ransomware. Innovative technology using behavioral heuristics analysis will detect and stop ransomware even when your anti-malware program is not able to do it. Acronis Active Protection will let you automatically restore any damaged files with no limitations on size.

Have an Anti-malware solution in place

Anti-malware software, or what is commonly known as “anti-virus,” provides a valuable defense against malware infections, but choose your software carefully. Remember: many free anti-virus programs don’t offer any protection against ransomware.

Keep up with software updates

Do not ignore software update messages — they are there for a reason. Software updates are designed to introduce new features or patch up security holes abused by cyber criminals. The sooner you patch up, the less likely your system will be exploited by ransomware. Upgrading to the latest software version is also a good practice. Outdated software may not be supported by the vendor, which makes it more prone to attacks. This applies to both applications and operating systems.  

Make file extensions visible

Your operating system may hide file extensions by default in order to try and keep things simple. It is highly recommended to make them visible. You do not expect people to send you a JavaScript file unless you’re a developer, right? Enable file extensions to spot the file types you don’t usually receive in your mailbox.

Be careful with email attachments

If you receive something from a person you don’t know, or something you don’t expect — don’t open it! Check it with the sender, run it through your anti-virus program. You may need do the same even for emails received from people you know. Be on a safe side: don’t open suspicious email attachments and don’t click the links, especially the ones asking you to download software “to read this attachment.”  Be careful and don’t be afraid to ask the email sender for a confirmation.

Don’t give your computer user more rights than you need to

If your computer user (your computer login) has Administrator privileges, it could spell disaster to all computers and devices on your network. Do not switch UAC (User Account Control) in Windows either: extra layer of security won’t hurt.

Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email

When you receive a World document or an Excel spreadsheet by email and it asks you to “Enable Macros” — don’t do it! A lot of harmful malware is spread this way (e.g., Osiris Ransomware). If the file is infected and you turn the macros on, you give the hackers permission to install ransomware and start encrypting your data.

Use new security features in your business applications

Essential business software applications, such as Microsoft Office 2016, now include an option to “Block macros from running in Office files from the internet”. This is handy. Make sure it’s enabled on your computer.

Prevent programs from being launched from the AppData and LocalAppData folders

Many ransomware programs, (e.g., Cryptolocker), copy files to these folders and run undetected, trying to look like a standard Windows process. You can create specific rules within your Windows installation to disallow files from being executed from these folders.

Disable remote desktop connection

Ransomware often accesses target machines using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), a Windows utility that allows others to access your desktop remotely. If you do not need to access your computer remotely, you can safely disable RDP to protect your machine.

Here we have listed a few measures you can take to protect your computer from ransomware. How many of these do you already apply? What stops you from following all the above steps? Remember: many victims of ransomware attacks thought it would never happen to them, ending up unprepared to withstand the attack and paying thousands of dollars in ransom. Don’t become part of this statistic. With a few simple tricks and robust ranswomare protection software from Acronis you can protect your valuable data in the most efficient and cost-effective way.