What Exactly Is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a real life digital villain. Computer viruses and Trojans are malicious programs which are generally referred as malware. These malicious programs have a capability of damaging computer devices in various different ways.
The virus reproduces themselves and affects other programs in a computer. Viruses can be downloaded from the internet, any kind of email attachment, or through any storage devices.
Ransomware is relatively a new type of computer virus genre. As the name implies ransomware is a malware that demands a ransom to be paid in order to be removed. Ransomware typically spreads as a Trojan entering the system through a shady network service or by a downloaded file.
Ransomware acts differently depending upon how dreadful it is. Generally, the most common form of ransomware is by popping up a fake antivirus tool that notifies you about a certain infection on your computer and asking for payment to get rid of those malicious files.
Another type of ransomware doesn’t allow you to start your PC properly. Generally, a full-sized window appears on the screen saying that you need to pay to proceed, quite often because of legal matters.
Cryptolocker is probably the scariest piece of ransomware today. Cryptolocker encrypts your files and locks them away from you unless you pay.
The growth of ransomware over the past few years has driven the security industry to create myriads of tools applicable for blocking these types of threats from being executed on computers. Very few of them are 100% bulletproof, though.
How To Stay Protected Against Ransomware?
1. Make Sure That You Backup Your Important Files on a Regular Basis
Backing up data is the biggest defence against ransomware. This outwits the attackers for not being vulnerable to their threats in the first place. Backing up important data on daily basis is very important so that even if your computer or server gets locked you don’t have to pay anything for accessing your own data.
In some cases, ransomware attackers search out for backup systems to encrypt and lock the data. These attackers gain entry through desktop and then manually work their way through a network to get the servers. In case instead of backing up your data in the cloud you back it up in a local storage device or server then they should be offline or not connected to the system so that your ransomware could not reach it.
Backing up your important data won’t make a ransomware attack painless but at least you can restore your data.
2. Restrict LAN Connections
Ransomware is highly sophisticated and has a capability of spreading to other computers connected to a local network. If a computer is infected, but not connected to the others, the infection won’t spread.
3. Limit User Permissions
This may help you limit the spread of ransomware across your network. Ensure that you are not a member of any elevated permission groups like domain administrators will help you keep the damage in check.
4. Turn off Wireless Connections
Make sure that you turn off your wireless connections such as infrared ports or Bluetooth. In many cases, Bluetooth gets exploited for stealthily by compromising the machine.
5. Think Twice Before Clicking
It is important that you think twice before clicking any kind of hyperlink. While browsing dangerous hyperlinks can be received via instant messengers or social networks. These attacks can be deployed. Cybercriminals compromise their accounts and submit bad links to as many people as possible.
6. Scan All Internets Download
Use a web monitor and scanning solution to scan all your internets downloads. This can help you prevent from accessing known malicious sites and allow you to scan or block certain file types.
7. Suspicious Activity
In case if you experience any suspicious activity on your computer then immediately turn off your internet connection. This step is particularly efficient at an early stage of the attack because the ransomware won’t get the chance to establish a connection with its command and control server and thus cannot complete the encryption routine.
8. Use Strong Passwords
Always use strong passwords that cannot be brute forced by remote criminals. Set a unique password for different accounts to reduce the potential risk.
9. Customize Browsers’ Security And Privacy Settings
It is important that you secure your browser. Browsers are the main exploitation targets for cyber criminals and it’s the same with ransomware. There’s a lot you can do to make your browsers more secure. Security and privacy settings in the browser can make a huge difference.
10. Remove Outdated Plug-In and Add-Ons from Your Browsers
Always remove outdated plug-in and add-ons from the browser as it can go rogue without you even realising it
11. Patch and Block
Many of us unknowingly open attachments and visit sites which are infected and when this happens we should make sure that our security programs protect us.
It is important that you patch and keep your operating system, browsers, antivirus, adobe flash player, java, and other software up-to-date. This habit can prevent compromises via exploit kits.
It is important to take security measures such as patching software security holes to prevent malicious software from exploiting them to infect systems.
12. Block Known Malicious IP Addresses
Onion router gateways are the primary means for ransomware threats to communicate with their C&C servers. Blocking this may impede the critical malicious processes from getting through.
13. Block Popup
Install a browser add-on to block popups. The popup can pose as an entry point for ransom Trojan attacks.
14. Disabling Windows Script Host
This is also an efficient method where you can disable windows script host to avoid ransomware.
15. Enhance Security Of Microsoft Office Components
To avoid ransomware enhancing the security of your Microsoft office components such as word, excel and power point.
Particularly, disable macros and ActiveX when it is not required. Additionally blocking external content is also a dependable technique to keep malicious code from being executed on the PC.
16. Refrain from Opening Suspicious Emails and Links
The primary method of infecting victims with ransomware involves phishing attack. This attack involves spamming emails that carry malicious attachment or instruct you to click on a URL where malware surreptitiously crawls into your machine.
17. Personalise Your Anti-Spam Settings
Ransomware variants are mostly known to spread via eye-catching emails that contain contagious attachments. To avoid ransomware configure your webmail server in such a way that it blocks dubious attachments with extensions like .exe, .vbs, or .scr.
18. Disable Windows Power Shell
By disabling windows PowerShell which is a task automation framework you can avoid ransomware. You can enable it when it is absolutely necessary.
19. Disable Remote Services
In case if you do not disable remote services they could rapidly propagate across the enterprise network, thus calling forth serious security issues for the business environment if your computer is a part of it.
20. Deactivate Autoplay
By deactivating auto play harmful processes won’t automatically get launched from external media, such as USB memory sticks or other drives.
21. Disable Files Sharing
Always make sure that you disable file sharing by which you can avoid ransomware infection which will stay isolated to your machine only.
22. Disabling Vssaexe
Disabling vssaexe functionality which is built into windows to administer volume shadow copy service is a normal handy tool which is used for restoring previous versions of arbitrary files.
With rapidly evolving encrypting malware, though, vssadmin.exe has turned into a problem rather than a favourable service. In case if vssaexe is disabled on PC while the time of compromise, ransomware will fail to use it for obliterating the shadow volume snapshots. This means you can use VSS to restore the blatantly encrypted files afterwards.
23. Disable Files Running From App Data/Local App Data Folders
You can create rules within windows to disallow a particular, notable behaviour used by Cryptolocker, which is to run its executable from the app data or local app data folders. In case if you have legitimate software that you know is set to run not from the usual program files area but the app data area, you will need to exclude it from the rule.
24. Don’t Enable Macros In Document Attachments Received Via Email
Microsoft deliberately turned off auto-execution of macros by default many years ago as a security measure. As a lot of infections rely on persuading when you to turn macros back on.
25. Proper Configuration
It is important that you keep your windows firewall turned on and properly configured it at all times. This can help you in preventing ransomware.
26. Login for a Longer Period
Don’t stay logged in as an administrator for a longer time than it is necessary. Also avoid unnecessary browsing, opening documents or other regular work activities while you have administrator rights.
27. Never plug unknown USB sticks
Never plug unknown USB sticks to your PC even after you scan it with an antivirus. Antivirus mostly does not detect ransomware attacks on PC.
29. File Extensions Feature
Show file extensions feature can also sometimes thwart ransomware plagues. Extension feature is a native windows functionality which tells you what types of files are being opened so that you can keep clear of potentially harmful files.
30. Security Software Scan
You can also adjust your security software to scan compressed or archived files so you are protected against ransomware.
31. Software Restriction Policies
Define software restriction policies which keep executable files from running when they are in specific locations of the system. The directories that most heavily are used for hosting malicious processes include app data, program data, temp and windowssyswow.
32. Consider Installing Microsoft Office Viewers
Microsoft office viewer applications provide you with an overview of the document without opening them in word or excel. This viewer software does not support macros so that you can’t enable them by mistake.
33. Additional Firewall Protection
You can enhance your protection more by setting up an additional firewall protection. There are many security suites available that can accommodate several firewalls in their feature set. This can add as a great addition to the stock defence against a trespass
34. Get Proactive Anti-Ransomware Protection
Think ahead and protect before ransomware strikes. Use anti- ransomware software and shield your computer from ransomware and other attacks.
35. Always Use a Reliable Antivirus Product
To avoid ransomware always makes sure that you use a reliable antivirus which includes an automatic update module and a real-time scanner. Keep your antivirus always updated. Free antivirus never provides the same level of protection as a paid version.
Ransomware is definitely within the top cyber peril due to the damage it causes. Countermeasures against ransomware are must otherwise you can lose your most important files or data. The above tips may help you prevent ransomware from entering in your system although the key recommendation is backups.