Ransomware is a dreaded term for many people in the industry. Ransomware is a type of malware used for data kidnapping. It takes your data hostage by encrypting it using supposedly unbreakable encryption algorithms and then demands payment in exchange for the decryption key.
Unfortunately, almost two in three companies have now been victimized by ransomware attacks in the past, and even more are expected to get in on this very lucrative new business of extortion. Ransomware is the fastest growing malware threat, targeting users of all types—from the home user to the large multinational corporate networks. In the last year alone, 54% of UK businesses had been hit by a ransomware attack, compared to 47% in the United States.
How to protect yourself from Ransomware attacks
As Ransomware attacks are increasingly becoming a threat to homes and businesses, finding how to protect and detect threats are becoming increasingly difficult. On the one hand, ransomware can be very scary – the encrypted files can essentially be considered damaged beyond repair. But if you have properly prepared your system, it is really nothing more than a nuisance. Here are our top tips that will help you keep ransomware from wrecking your day or worse your business:
Back up your data
The single biggest thing that will defeat ransomware is having a regularly updated backup. If you are attacked with ransomware you may lose that document you started earlier this morning, but if you can restore your system to an earlier snapshot or clean up your machine and restore your other lost documents from backup, you can rest easy. A regular backup regimen, to an external drive or backup service can be a saving grace.
Update your software
Ransomware attackers frequently rely on people and businesses running outdated software with known weaknesses, which can be exploited to get onto your system. It can significantly decrease the potential for ransomware attacks if you make a practice of updating your software often. Enable automatic updates if you can, or go directly to the software vendor’s website, as malware authors like to disguise their creations as software update notifications too.
If Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) if it’s not being used then it is worth disabling the application. Ransomware attackers often accesses target machines using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), a Windows utility that allows others to access your desktop remotely. If you do not require the use of RDP, you can disable RDP to protect your machine from Filecoder and other RDP exploits.
Use a reputable security suite
It is always a good idea to have both anti-malware software and a software firewall to help you identify threats or suspicious behaviour. Malware authors frequently send out new variants, to try to avoid detection, so this is why it is important to have both layers of protection. A next-generation firewall technology is designed to detect advanced threats.
These are only the bare minimum steps to consider if you want to protect yourself or business from ransomware attacks, but there are many more steps to take if your goal is to completely harden your cybersecurity framework to lock out the threat entirely.