Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

Don’t Panic! How to Protect Your Work Computer from Ransomware

Ransomware isn’t the problem it once was.

Last year, we saw a 30% drop in ransomware attacks. It now accounts for less than five percent of malware payloads.

That’s the good news.

However, where it’s dropped in prevalence, ransomware is increasing in complexity.

This problem remains a significant threat to computers and may cause serious damage. For instance, ransomware attacks are predicted to occur against businesses every 14 seconds in 2019, racking up an impressive $11.5 billion.

Clearly, it’s worth knowing about ransomware and how to protect yourself from it. Let us help!

Interested in learning how to prevent ransomware? Keep on reading.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware (or malicious software) that infects your computer.

Oftentimes distributed via phishing emails, ransomware does what it says on the tin. It essentially hijacks your system, or particularly important files on it, and holds you to ransom for their safe return.

You’re confronted with an ultimatum: pay a set amount of money or reap the consequences. Don’t pay, and you’ll face deletion and/or corruption of your data, files, and maybe even your entire system.  

How to Prevent Ransomware: Top 5 Tips

The best way to solve the problem of ransomware is to avoid it in the first place. Now that you know what ransomware is, it’s time to go through how to prevent it. You can also click here to learn more about protecting yourself from this threat. 

1. Back Everything Up

Regularly backing up your files and documents is an important way to prevent ransomware. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll avoid it altogether. However, having a backup copy of everything will remove the significance of the ransom itself. After all, why would you pay the ransom if you have everything you need elsewhere?

Using an external hard drive is one means of backing things up. It’s best to be offline when copying your files over; otherwise, it can be hijacked along with the computer.

For the same reason, keep the drive detached from your PC when you don’t need it.

You could also back things up using an online cloud-based service, such as Dropbox. This method requires access to earlier versions of files, though. It allows you to restore hijacked files to their earlier form.

2. Use Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software

Prior preparation prevents poor performance. Apply this mantra to your ransomware preventative measures.

Anti-virus and anti-malware protection are crucial investments when avoiding ransomware. Anti-virus protection, such as the free Windows Defender program, is essential for the health of your device.

Ensure you install malware protection too. You can find dedicated ransomware protection programs to thwart attacks. However, the usefulness of these programs will be limited if your computer is already affected.

Prior preparation is key.

3. Regularly Update Your Computer

New malware is being developed all the time.

Updating your computer whenever possible is a surefire way to stay ahead of the ransomware game. Outdated systems are more susceptible to attacks.

Malware is designed with particular PC versions in mind. This means that updates to a PC can render the malware ineffective. If you use Windows, you should turn on automatic updates. If that isn’t possible, update your device manually whenever you have the chance.

The same goes for your anti-virus and anti-malware protection.

Each update will enhance your level of defense against the ever-changing ransomware that’s being released online.

4. Avoid Suspicious Emails

Phishing emails are a common means of infecting a computer.

Have you ever been to your inbox and seen a host of emails telling you you’ve won some extraordinary prize, been entered into a competition, are in danger of some kind, and so on? They’re all designed in a way to provoke you into action.

By opening these emails, you open yourself up to ransomware attacks.

Thankfully, such emails are often easy to spot. Moreover, your email provider may filter automatically these messages into your spam folder. However, they can occasionally be convincing enough to spark your interest.

The safest bet is to avoid anything that seems at all untoward or unusual.

5. Don’t Visit Suspect Websites

Avoiding dodgy emails is one thing. Steering clear of suspicious sites is another.

Websites that are laid out strangely, contain suspect download links, or raise eyebrows in any way should be avoided.  

This is where certain anti-virus software comes into its own. Quality protection often warns you in advance of potentially harmful sites. You can then avoid accordingly.

You should also consider installing a popup blocker on your web browser. This is because ransomware is sometimes embedded in ads that pop up on certain sites.

The website itself may be fine, but the advertisements may not. Clicking on them can install malware to your PC.

A pop-up blocker reduces the chance of clicking on a nefarious advert.

Likewise, only visit protected sites. You can tell they’re protected if you see ‘https’ at the front of the URL. This means it is secure. Unsecured sites begin with ‘http’ and lack any sort of encryption.

Unsecured sites make you vulnerable to malware and hacks. Never enter passwords into unsecured websites, and try to sign out of any accounts before visiting them.

Take Action Today

There you have it: how to prevent ransomware. Thankfully, it is becoming less common.

However, ransomware continues to have a deleterious impact on businesses and individuals around the world. This type of malware demands a ransom to release its hold on your system and/or files. Not paying up can cause significant harm to your PC.

The best way of dealing with ransomware is to prevent it from being a problem in the first place.

Hopefully, the information here has provided you with the information to do so. Remember to regularly back up all of your files onto an external hard-drive, cloud-based system, or both. Install anti-virus and anti-malware protection, and keep your PC and software updated whenever possible.

Finally, strive to avoid any suspicious emails and websites that you come across.

Managing to do all of this will make a significant difference in your bid to avoid ransomware.

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