How can we prevent a ransomware attack?

Almost a year has passed since the project No More Ransom (RMN) was launched, and an increasingly growing number of police and private partners have joined the initiative, meaning more victims of ransomware can get their files back without having to pay the criminals.

The platform www.nomoreransom.org  is currently available in 14 languages and contains 40 free decoding tools. Since its publication in December, over 10,000 victims all over the world have been able to decode their affected devices thanks to the freely available tools on the platform.

No more Ransom advises how a ransomware attack can be avoided or, alternatively, how its consequences can be minimised:

1.- It proposes the creation of two security copies: one to be stored on the cloud – remembering to use a service which makes an automatic security copy of the files– and one to physically store contents on the hard disc (laptop, USB memory flash drive, extra laptop, etc. ). These must be disconnected from their source when work is finished. The security copy can also be useful if an important file is accidentally erased or if there is a mistake on the hard disc.

2.- Use a powerful antivirus to protect the ransomware system. It recommends not switching off “heuristic functions” as these help as a solution to take samples of ransomware which have not been formally detected.

3.- Keep the whole computer programme updated. When the operating system (OS) or applications require a new version, it must be installed. And if the programme offers an automatic updating system, it must be accepted.

4.- Never trust anyone. Never. Any account can be compromised and malicious links can be sent from friends’ accounts on social networks, colleagues or on-line game-playing friends. Don’t open files attached to email messages if you don’t know the sender. Cyber criminals are used to distributing false email messages which may appear to be bank, police, court or tax office notifications. These tempt their receivers to click on malicious links which gives the malware free passage into their system.

5.- Activate the option ‘Show file extension’ on the Windows configuration on your computer. This means that it will be much easier to detect potentially malicious files. Keep away from file extensions such as ‘.exe’, ‘.vbs’ and ‘.scr’. Swindlers may use a range of extensions to disguise a malicious file like a video, photograph or a document

6.- If you discover an unknown process on your computer, immediately disconnect via Internet or other network connections – like Wi-Fi – this will stop the virus spreading.

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