5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Ransomware [A Guide]
Ransomware in the cloud is one of the fastest-growing types of malware, and consumers and businesses alike should take steps to protect themselves against it. Here are five things you can do to help prevent ransomware attacks.
1) Two-factor authentication
If you are a technology user, it is likely that you already have at least one account secured with two-factor authentication. Two-factor adds an extra layer of security to your account by requiring a second type of authentication in addition to your username and password. This extra layer of authentication can take various forms: One popular option is adding a six-digit code that is texted or emailed to you when logging in; another is using an app like Google Authenticator or Authy. In both cases, even if someone knows your password, they still need access to some other form of authentication (the code or app) before getting into your account. Turning on two-factor authentication may be inconvenient, but it’s highly effective—and worth it!
2) Keep all software updated
Keeping your software up-to-date helps protect you against ransomware attacks because hackers will attempt to find vulnerabilities in programs commonly used. Using outdated versions makes it much easier for them. Make sure you keep all of your software updated and always check when new versions are available. Software updates are necessary if you use services like Web browsers or operating systems because they receive frequent updates. To ensure that your computer is secure, update every part of it at least once a week and look for security patches every day if possible.
3) Avoid free file sharing sites
If you are not familiar with free file sharing sites, they are where people can share any digital file over a peer-to-peer connection. Examples include LimeWire and BearShare. While these sites are great for getting information quickly, it’s important to remember that you’re not in control of who else is on those networks. Some people might upload malicious files—for example, a piece of software that will install a virus on your computer without you knowing about it. It’s also possible for criminals to use file-sharing sites as distribution channels for child pornography and spam messages. Avoiding these kinds of downloads can help protect your computer from serious problems later on down the road.
4) Use a good antivirus software
Although there are no guarantees in technology, some security products do a better job than others at keeping your computer safe. In particular, you must use antivirus software and keep it up-to-date; without such protection, you leave yourself vulnerable to malware like ransomware that steals your files or even locks them down until you pay a ransom. The best antivirus products work proactively by protecting against malware and phishing scams. To stay safe online and your data secure, start by updating your anti-virus software.
5) Have an offline backup of your data
Although we hear a lot about ransomware, it is important to note the other security risks out there. Having an offline backup of your data is incredibly helpful because you will not be a hostage if you don’t store sensitive information online. Think about the number of devices you use every day—mobile phones, computers, and tablets; what would happen if you lost access to your files? A place to start is with an external hard drive for your computer. Then consider things like flash drives or external memory cards for other devices in your home.
Never pay a ransom. No reputable security firm will ever contact you with instructions about unlocking your data. Instead, back up your system and be sure you have regular backups of all information in at least two different locations. Your last line of defense is going back to an earlier point in time with a backup in hand so that if things do go wrong, you’ll have an intact copy ready for recovery. A clean backup can often be easier than trying to rescue files directly off your computer! If possible, test restoring some older versions of critical files as well.