Thursday, March 5, 2015

How to protect your PC from one of the biggest threats - Ransomware

PC malware has always been a problem, but lately we have seen an exponential increase in the number and severity of infections. It has become a huge and very lucrative business. One of the most profitable strains has been given a very appropriate moniker - Ransomware. Specific variants like Cryptolocker and Cryptowall have spread across the Internet and they have become very difficult to avoid.

Ransomware is a generic term, but most infections involve Trojan Malware that locks your computer or encrypts files and then demands money - promising a key or password upon payment. The encryption methods are very effective and your data (documents, pictures, videos, etc.) will be irretrievable. In addition, there is no guarantee that you will receive your data - even if you pay the ransom. So what can you do? Here are a few tips:

  1. Turn off Flash and Java in your web browser (IE, Chrome, Firefox). Chrome will allow you to setup "click to play" in case you need Flash or Java for a specific site.
  2. Use your PC as a "normal user" rather than as a user with "Administrative Rights." This can be a little inconvenient if you routinely install software, but it will mitigate many issues.
  3. Do not click on links in email - even if you recognize or know the person that sent the message.
  4. Always have active anti-malware software running and keep it up to date.
  5. Keep your PC patched by running all Windows security updates.
  6. Change your computer Policies with CryptoPrevent - free from FoolishIT.
  7. Last and most important of all - always backup your important documents and files. An online or network backup is a good idea, but it may not be sufficient. Some of the Crypto variants can encrypt your backup files on Network Shares and Live Cloud services. So, you should also have a backup on a disconnected device - like a portable USB drive.