In case you missed the last one or two posts, we are talking about ransomware. Ransomware is malware that locks up your computer, so you can’t use it. Today we’re going to see how you can protect yourself from ransomware.
Ransomware relies on scare tactics to trick users into thinking they have done something wrong. Do you remember that you can get infected by ransomware simply by visiting an infected website or opening your email? You didn’t have to do anything wrong to get infected.
If you’re a big corporation with an IT dept. you’ll probably be able to deal with an attack. If you’re a person with a home computer, who gets attacked, knowing what to do isn’t so easy. You probably don’t want to have to pay for cyber insurance along with all your other bills.
So, the next question is how can you protect yourself from ransomware?
The typical home computer user has no idea what to do when that warning pops up. You get scared and pay that $200-$400 ransom, because you don’t know what else to do. Even if you don’t have the money, you think pay it or buy a new computer. Let’s see if we help.
The first step knowing how to protect yourself from ransomware is to know it when you see it. Many times, a user affected by ransomware will see a law enforcement pop-up that looks pretty real.
These pop-ups will attempt to scare you into thinking you have done something illegal on your computer. There will be instructions on how to buy your way out of trouble by paying a fine.
Here is one common example.
If you notice, at the bottom it even tells you how to pay the fine. It also gives a time limit of 72 hours or be arrested. That is very convenient if you don’t have the money on hand.
Another common attack method is to freeze your computer, then distort your screen image. You will then hear a message repeated over and over, giving you instructions on what to do.
Protect Yourself from Ransomware
First of all, don’t worry about the FBI if you receive a warning. They will come and visit you, not put a pop-up on your computer screen. To really be prepared and handle the situation, here are 10 things that you will want to keep in mind:
- Never give anyone your credit card information or send them MoneyPak coupons. There’s no guarantee that they will ever unlock your computer.
- Use Windows Update and a current antivirus software to keep your system secure.
- If you do get a ransomware pop-up, immediately disconnect your computer from the internet.
- Computers are machines and do break, so keep a backup of the files that you have on there.
- Erasing and reinstalling your files is the only real way to know you are no longer infected.
- Run the latest version of Internet Explorer (even if you don’t use it) and remove any Java Add-ons. You can add them back later if you need them. Locate them in Tools>Internet Options>Programs tab>Manage Add-ons.
- Never open email attachments unless you are expecting one from someone you know. Attachments can contain files that can instantly infect your computer.
- Create a standard user account and log-in as that. If you log-in as Administrator, any virus you get will also have administrator rights.
- If you suspect that you are infected, run Windows Defender offline. You may already have this on your computer. If not, download it from a computer that is not infected and run it from that disc or flash drive.
- If you get a phone call from Microsoft, it’s fake. Just like the FBI, Microsoft will never call you. Someone calls wanting you to allow them to remotely access your computer. Never allow a stranger to remotely access your computer. Just hang up. Once they have access, they will also have everything that you have on there.
Now you know what ransomware is and how to protect yourself from ransomware. If you need help or information on handling a problem, remember MrInsurability is only a click away!