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How to Stay Safe from Latest Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks have become a very prominent occurrence in the last few years; they’ve shaken the IT industry and forced them into implementing better security measures. In the past few years alone, ransomware attacks like WannaCry, Locky, VirLock, Havoc, and Petya have wreaked havoc on networks. How can we in the industry prevent future attacks from occurring? While we cannot stop them from happening, we can take precautionary measures to repel such attacks. The key to this is to install antivirus solutions, patch all known vulnerabilities and not install apps from unknown authors.

Before elaborating on how to add ransomware protection to your systems, let us dig into the two main types of ransomware out there: crypto ransomware and locker ransomware.

Crypto Ransomware

Also known as CryptoLocker, this ransomware works by encrypting the data of the users it has infected, and then creates a random symmetric key for each of the files that it encodes. Afterward, the symmetric key generated for the data is encrypted again with the asymmetric public key.

Locker Ransomware

Locker (not the same as CryptoLocker) is a type of ransomware that encrypts files and targets Microsoft Windows operating systems. When this ransomware is installed, it scans the victim’s hard drive for files that have a specific extension, (such as .rar or .zip) and then begins to encrypt them with AES encryption. After it finishes encrypting all the valuable user data, it displays a screen saying that all of your data is locked and that you must pay a certain amount of money to get your files back. In order to pay them off, the user must usually make payments using cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, to the hacker.

So, how do you stay safe from ransomware attacks and add extra protection? Here are a few methods:

1. Make secure backups regularly

Make sure that you back up all of your critical data and that you don’t store all of your essential data on your PC. Fragment your data into folders, and separate highly sensitive data. It is also helpful to make and multiple backups in different places such as on a flash drive, external hard drive and have another backup in the cloud using backup services like Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive.

To ensure your backups are 100% safe and secure, you should encrypt your data before uploading it either in the cloud or by saving it locally on a hard drive. Encrypting your data is important because if you lose your hard drive or the cloud service itself gets compromised the hackers will not be able to get into your data.

2. Keep everything updated to the latest version

The easiest way for a hacker to infiltrate your computer is through vulnerabilities and bugs in the applications and operating systems that you are using. After finding a vulnerability they make an exploit in order to use that bug to cause damage or steal valuable information. Keep everything updated with the latest security updates. Make sure you are occasionally checking for updates to your operating system.

3. Be careful when opening emails

Do not open emails that you receive from unknown senders or open emails that were not meant to arrive. More importantly, never download attachments from emails that look suspicious, filed with keywords, or that promise you a free trip to the Caribbean. Finally, do not click on links in spam emails unless you are certain of their trustworthiness.

4. Use a reliable antivirus solution

Investing in reliable antivirus software is always a good idea to ensure complete round-the-clock protection for your PC. There are many antivirus solutions for Windows you can choose from, but you must ensure that the software supports real-time scanning and auto updates. You can check the threat detection rate of all the antivirus programs with a simple online search.

5. Don’t pay the ransom

Like in most hostage situations, do not give the hackers money in exchange for your files; most of the time, you will not get the data back anyway. Additionally, it encourages hackers to commit more of these crimes as they have now been rewarded for their actions. Instead of paying the ransom, there are free ransomware decryption and removal tools on the internet that you can use to get your files back at no cost.

Conclusion

Security is vital to every aspect of your online presence: websites, online businesses, PCs, laptops, social media, and more. It is therefore imperative for you to know how to stay safe from harmful ransomware attacks. We hope you enjoyed this guide and stay safe on the web.