5 Essential Tips to Prevent Ransomware

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

Ransomware attacks have doubled over the past year, according to the FBI. These attacks are growing at an even faster rate than prior years. Hospitals, schools, and other government agencies are falling victim to such attacks more frequently. So are small businesses. And we are all left to wonder if we’ll ever see an end to this heinous crime.

Ransomware is a vicious cyber attack that encrypts your files and holds them for ransom. Your files remain encrypted until you pay a fee to the cyber criminal responsible for the attack. Ransoms range from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars. And there’s no guarantee your files will be released back to you either. The shady people behind a ransomware attack are not the most trustworthy, as you can imagine.

The 5 essential tips to prevent ransomware below will get you headed in the right direction.

1. Updates

Software updates and patches are essential to keeping your programs running smoothly. They also help to protect you from hackers. They do this by fixing software security issues which lessen the chance of a malware threat. Keep in mind that applying updates and patches is just one step in your line of defense against threats. Be sure to read 2 through 5 to increase your protection.

2. Anti-malware

Anti-malware software, such as Webroot or AVG, offers various layers of protection against threats. They can detect the different versions of ransomware and stop them before they have the chance to encrypt your files. It’s best to spring for the paid version since the free ones do not completely protect your system. Once installed, confirm the software is set to automatically update virus and threat definitions. Doing this ensures the program detects and protects you from the latest threats.

3. Strong Passwords

You’ve heard this a hundred times. And that’s because using strong passwords is important. Strong passwords is the one prevention tip that is widely overlooked. Your natural tendency is to create a password you will remember. Unfortunately, the ones that are easy to remember are also easy for hackers to figure out. Use a password management service such as LastPass that stores and encrypts your passwords.

4. Delete Unknown Emails with Attachments

Email attachments are one of the most common ways ransomware is distributed. If you do not recognize the sender, do not open the attachment. Even if the email does look legitimate, think twice before clicking. Hackers do their best to make their emails look real in hopes you will click on the attachment. In this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

5. Back Up

Create external or offsite backups on a regular basis. You do not want the backup to sit on your computer because it could become encrypted too. This goes for your cloud files on Google Drive and Dropbox as well. This type of backup enables you to restore a previous version of your files. If you do get hit with a ransomware attack, you can restore most of your files with this backup.