The recent wave of cyber-attacks that had damaged networks across Western Europe shows, once again, how powerful hackers can be by creating multiple variations of the same old virus that had previously infected other networks in Europe.
Ransomware is a powerful virus that locks out your computer demanding a ransom if you want to have your files back. It is different from other viruses because old fashioned viruses could at least let user work for a while before activating an antivirus scan or calling a computer technician to get rid of the infection. Ransomware makes the computer completely frozen and does not let users take any kind of initiative.
But, Can Users Do Anything To Protect Their Machines Against Ransomware?
We have decided to list down below what we believe is the best practice to avoid not only ransomware but, hopefully, any type of infection:
Windows and Mac Computers:
– Perform Regular Backups of your files: keep a backup to an external hard drive and a cloud backup of your files through Crashplan. Do not keep your external hard drive always plugged in while working: if ransomware hits your machine, the infection will spread across your external backup drive.
– Keep your computer up to date: If you have Windows 7 keep it up to date with the latest patches but if it is possible for you, switch directly to Windows 10 which has more robust security features. Mac users should backup their files first to Time Machine and then upgrade to OSX 12 Sierra.
– Keep your antivirus up to date and scan regularly your computer with antivirus engine and malware bytes. If you have Norton and Mac Afee consider to replace them for better solutions such as Sophos and Avira.
– Mind the website you are visiting: usually antivirus companies provide browser extensions that show you with green dots if a website on Google is classified as safe or not.
– Beware of the attachment coming through your mail box: ransomware spreads mostly through infected attachments. Therefore, right click on the attachment you have just downloaded, and scan it with malware bytes first. If malware bytes scan result is zero you can open the attachment. Do not just open the attachment after having downloaded; you may regret having opened it, if it starts encrypting your computer.
– Change the DNS of your home router and point them to the following Norton DNS:
Preferred DNS: 126.96.36.199
Alternate DNS: 188.8.131.52
This way your Internet browsing will be protected from shady websites.
– Use Google for your search: avoid AOL at all costs. If you have an email with AOL, consider switching to Gmail, which has more powerful anti-spam capabilities. Consider also using Google news and not AOL for your news, because Google has a virus-free technology.
– Consider downloading a new anti-ransomware tool from the Israeli company Cyber Reason: it is free and good and does not slow down your computer. We have tested the tool in our environment and it really blocks the encryption of your files, which is what criminals really want.
If your computer is struck by ransomware do not pay up the criminals but consider reformatting your computer with a fresh installation of the operating system and follow the advice we have given in this article to avoid it happening again.