The ever-changing landscape of technology is a fascinating sight to see, but not all the players are working for good. The emergence of stunning virtual reality and helpful software also attracts hackers.
Follow these steps to stay safe from ransomware attacks and defend personal information.
The Goals of Ransomware
The United States saw 3,728 people or organizations fall victim to ransomware attacks in 2021, with tens of millions of dollars lost. These strikes are serious cases and can cause their targets to lose large amounts of money.
Ransomware’s goal is to earn a ransom from stolen information. Through a seemingly secure download, these hackers gain access to their victim’s data and then threaten them until they are paid.
One such method of a ransomware attack is the locking approach. Once inside, the attacker freezes all functions on the keyboard and mouse. Next, a pop-up covers the screen, demanding money or the data will be deleted or sold to another buyer.
The other method many attackers use is crypto-ransomware. The attacker will create unique keys that do not allow the owner to access them. Files will now begin to have extensions like .crypt or .encrypted.
Thankfully, there are ways to prevent these attacks and build a security plan.
Understanding how attackers install ransomware onto their target’s devices is vital.
Phishing schemes in emails can contain links and attachments that house ransomware attacks. They are often disguised as friends or innocent senders, and their appearance tries to lull their victim into a sense of safety before striking.
Besides targeted links, users should be wary of “drive-by downloads.” Frequenting insecure websites may house ransomware that automatically downloads even if the user has not clicked on anything suspicious.
Steps to Protect Against Ransomware
Thankfully, there are several ways to stay safe from ransomware attacks. People should take these steps to secure their data.
1. Keep Software up to Date
Ransomware evolves and tries to maneuver around security measures, so users must match this with a level of precaution.
Most tech enthusiasts already have security software installed on their devices. However, everyone needs update reminders so their programs can run as efficiently as possible.
Additionally, consider configuring automatic scans to run at set intervals. This ensures nothing will slip through the cracks.
2. Back Data Up
Security software is vital, but a proactive approach requires proper backing-up of data. Seek a cloud service that places copies of documents onto a third-party server.
If the hacker compromises the original copy and home computer, the user can simply wipe the device and not worry about the attacker’s threats. The user will be confident knowing their documents are still safe on the cloud.
However, be sure the backups are secure as well. Research third-party cloud sharing platforms and stay updated on their security protocols.
3. Stay on Secure Networks
Though the coffee shop Wi-Fi is enticing, it may be at risk of ransomware attacks. Free, public Wi-Fi is often not as secure as home or employer networks, so it is important to only use devices with sensitive information at home or in trusted settings.
A VPN can ensure a secure connection away from the home and office if there is no way around using public Wi-Fi.
4. Maintain Password Security
Create long passwords that appear random. For maximum security, experts recommend using a passphrase of four unexpected yet memorable words strung together.
Multifactor authentication, password keepers and security questions are also good options to maintain privacy on all accounts.
5. Click with Caution
Always use caution when opening links and email attachments. Remember that ransomware attackers disguise their strikes as familiar or friendly faces to trick their targets.
Even if the sender seems authentic, double-check their address to see the validity of the email.
6. Get Educated
Educating oneself on proper security actions is a good practice to implement. Notifications from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISCA) update users on new ransomware targeting practices or additional advice for protection.
Business owners should consider adding ransomware training for employees as well. Knowing how to recognize a spam email or suspicious link can greatly impact company data security.
What to Do if an Attack Occurs
If the ransomware attacker has breached the security measures, the next steps depend on the type of device.
People whose personal devices have been affected need help from an authority like the FBI. Employees on work computers should contact IT and security professionals from internal offices.
After professional help has removed the ransomware, the user must change all passwords and update their security measures.
Staying Safe From Ransomware
Ransomware seems like a scary prospect for many people, but anyone can protect themselves from these threats with the right education and tools.
Follow these steps to maximize security on all devices and build an impenetrable wall against ransomware attacks.