How to protect your computer from ransomware

As can be deduced from the name, ransomware is a malware that is used to corrupt your computer files until you pay a ransom. Sometimes the files are lost for good even after paying the ransom. Trust me, the experience can be daunting; and for folks who have got highly confidential and important data in their PCs, it can be compared to kidnap. In this article, you would learn how to stay away or fight it if your PC has already been infected.

First, Let us Talk About Ransomware

This picture summarizes the key features of a Ransomware attack. Your computer gets locked, your files corrupted or at worse deleted, you are requested to make payments (usually in cryptocurrency), and you get a key to unlock your computer files. The attack is usually targeted at big corporations, government agencies, and large enterprises; sometimes ordinary people still get attacked too.

The attack can be perpetrated using different means; from emails to download links to suspicious apps and so on. Sometimes the attack is done in a spear-phishing manner, randomly picking their victims. Known ransomware includes ZENIS and GermanWiper, which clear the files as opposed to just corrupting them.

Making Your Backups Immune to Ransomware

There re two possibilities available to you when you are under a ransomware attack: You pay to recover your files, i.e. if they have not been deleted already; and the second option is to reconstruct your files from your backups.

There are many cons and risks associated with the first option, not to mention financial costs. The best practice is to have all your files backed up in anticipation of such an event. To backup your files, thee are certain things you should know:

Avoid leaving your external hard drive or cloud drive constantly connected to your PC

Chances are that anything connected to your computer during the attack is also infected, whether it is a direct connection or via the Internet. For traditional hard drive issues, there is no problem, but with ransomware, you could be done for. It is safer to always disconnect after each schedule backup session.

Leverage version control

While disconnecting external backup devices can be a control measure for ransomware attacks, there is no assurance that they would be immune to the attack. Version control is the next best strategy to adopt, in the sense that you could use backup tools that timestamp the different versions of your backups. This makes it possible to return to versions of your files that were available before the attack.

Use Practical Backup Solutions

There are always limitations to “free” backups. Whether it is Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, you would have to pay to access the most protective and dedicated features. While Microsoft’s OneDrive comes with ransomware protection and DropBox Pro comes with 180-day version history, Google Drive and iCloud do not have these features; the latter choices might not be your best option when combating ransomware attack. There are also other great version control backup platforms like Acronis, Carbonite, and iDrive.

Avoiding a Ransomware Attack

Indeed there are ways to stay on top of your security game and prepare for the war against ransomware. When your computer is in its secure state, with versions of layered backups, then do the following:

Install a quality antivirus. It is important that you protect your PC with a very good antivirus that also has anti-ransomware features; there are many of them, from Norton to AVG and Avast.

Click with caution. Whatever you do not trust, do not click. From strange email links to carrier pigeon messages and fraudulent websites. Visit legitimate platforms where legal business goes on.

Regularly update your computer. This way you keep it abreast and sensitive to attacks.

The steps above would keep you significantly safe from attacks.

How to navigate your way out of an attack

”All is not lost when you are hit by a ransomware attack”.

There are still ways to go around the whole thing and still get all your files intact without spending a dime. Some concerned folks have taken time to develop anti-ransomware software that decrypts the ransomware encryption and return your files unaffected. Below are two solutions:

No More Ransom: Along with European agencies, John McAfee–the popular antivirus founder–developed this tool to help victims of ransomware attack recover their files without spending a penny. A few files sent to the system to try out, if decrypted successfully, then the entire computer can be recovered as well.

ID Ransomware: This is very much like No More Ransom, but was developed by a different team. They work the same way in almost every aspect.