Ransomware is a particularly dangerous form of malware. Here are a few key tips for making sure you remain as far away as possible from it and keep your data safe.
The year 2017 was a nasty reminder that the world of cybercrime is only getting more creative and destructive with the passage of time. The variety and severity of malware continues to increase and the threat they pose to users are no longer limited to data loss only: they can also cause significant financial losses.
Ransomware attacks have existed for decades. However, the real extent of the damage they can cause at such a large level was plainly demonstrated by hackers all over the world the previous year. The particular form of ransomware launched last year is quite fittingly called “WannaCry” and it affected major organizations including National Health Service of the UK and German railways.
This malware majorly targeted a vulnerability in Windows XP PCs in over 150 countries around the world. The malware completely locks down the system of the user by encrypting the data and the user is then demanded to pay a ransom amount in bitcoins to regain access to their PC.
So what can we do about these dangerous malware infections? Here are some preventive tips you can take because ransomware does a great job of proving that prevention is really better than cure.
Tip 1: Use a VPN on Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are particularly susceptible to malware, as they have only basic encryption. Hackers can lie in wait for users connected to Wi-Fi hotspots and steal their personal information for financial gain or blackmailing.
There is no denying that public Wi-Fi hotspots are extremely convenient and allow us to remain connected to the Internet on the go. Nonetheless, this convenience shouldn’t come at the price of security. One step you can take to increase security of your data on public Wi-Fi is to use the best VPN service.
I reached the senior editor, Aazim Akhtar, of a popular VPN review website VPNRanks.com on this: “Public Wi-Fi hotspots in hotels, restaurants, airports, etc. attract hackers like flies. Most users fail to realize how easily their sensitive data can be stolen while they are connected to a public Wi-Fi. VPN services, particularly those that use advanced encryption protocols is the most reliable method for staying anonymous and attaining strong security on Wi-Fi hotspots.”
Tip 2: Update system software
The WannaCry virus targeted Windows XP users. If the majority of users had been using updated operating systems, the ransomware disaster of 2017 could have been significantly reduced in impact. This is why updating operating system and software installed as soon as an update is available is extremely important, as many organizations of the WannaCry attack learned the hard way.
You should never delay updates out of laziness or plain ignorance. Therefore, I strongly recommend keeping your PCs and devices updated as an effective security measure that can actually prevent you from falling victim to pesky malware.
Tip 3: Always have an Antimalware with real-time protection
Any computer security solution would be incomplete without an antivirus. Using a quality anti-virus such as Malwarebytes can protect you from malicious files that might contain ransomware. However, Is Malwarebytes safe? The expert reviews of the program sure indicate so.
Make sure you keep your antimalware program updated with all protective and real-time shields active at all times. This is one of the most effective security measures against ransomware infections.
Tip 4: Be very, very careful when opening emails
Frankly speaking, many malware infections are caused due to the negligence of users themselves. Ransomware spreads primarily through emails that tempt people to click links containing the virus.
Hackers can create fake domain names that seem to be legit and coming from a genuine company or brand. Often, the difference between a real website and a malicious one is of a single misplaced letter in the domain name that users, in their hurry, tend to miss. As soon as the link is opened, the game is already over.
This is why it is always better to open a link through Google search results or directly visiting the desired website, rather than clicking links on suspicious emails. Since a great number of ransomware infections originate from emails, staying vigilant and careful can go a long way in reducing your chances of being hijacked by this malware.
Tip 5: Backup data regularly
Living in 2018, backing up data has become extremely fast and convenient. Cloud storage services have made it unnecessary to have an extra hard drive for backing up. You can simply upload all of your important files on cloud without the hassle of keeping an extra piece of hardware.
If you have all your information backed up, then a ransomware can only be a minor annoyance even at its worst. You can format your infected HDD and get rid of the virus effectively. However, it would be much better if an infection could be avoided in the first place, which leads us to the next tip.
Tip 6: Keep Remote Desktop Connection disabled
Another gateway that ransomware often uses to compromise Windows PCs is through the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). The RDP is a convenient feature that allows you to control your system remotely from another computer. However, this utility can also be a security threat as hackers might take advantage of it to inject malware in your system.
You should only enable RDP when you actually want remote access to your PC. It is best to keep it disabled at all other times.
The challenges facing computer security are taking more and more sophisticated forms. However, it often only takes simple preventive measures and safe practices to avert most types of viruses, even ransomware.
So, do yourself a favor and stay in control of your own security on the Internet.