How To Protect Yourself From Ransomware

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Protect yourself from ransomware attacks.

Ransomware isn’t something new, but it has been making news headlines more often. As hackers become more advanced they’re able to bypass security protocols and infiltrate systems and platforms at large. Unsettling to say the least.

Going back to 1989, the PC Cyborg trojan (a.k.a. Aids Info Disk, or AIDS) attacked machines and replaced their autoexec.bat file. The trojan would use the file to count the number of time a computer rebooted and once it reached a certain number it executed. It would hide directories and rename files on the C: drive rendering the system unusable. To restore system functionality the trojan demanded payment from the user.

Flash forward to 2014 and these same folks are coming up with new methods for releasing ransomware and wreaking havoc on unknowing users. Last week, the ransomware dubbed Android/Simplocker made its rounds in Eastern Europe. The trojan asks users who have been hacked to pay a ransom in Urkanian hryvnias.

So you have to ask what can you do to protect yourself from the threat of ransomware? Easy. Take action by following some of these suggested steps and helpful tips to minimize the possibility of a ransomware attack.

Show hidden file extensions

If you’re operating Windows you’ll want to enable your settings to reveal the full file extension name. By default Windows will hide them. Seeing the extensions may help you spot anything suspicious.

Turn on email filters

Ransomware doesn’t magically teleport into your computer or mobile device. It relies on unaware users to click or access email attachments to launch the trojan. So, don’t click any email attachments that have come from unknown sources, and if you feel tempted consider setting up filters on your email client that will either deny acceptance of any messages with .EXE files.

Disable remote desktop protocol

Remote desktop protocol (RDP) is a Windows utility that allows others to access your computer remotely. Turning it off is a good precautionary measure to follow. Find assistance on how to turn it off in Windows 8 or Windows 7.

Double down with AV software and firewall

Create a multi-layer security fortress for your computer by adding firewall protection and antivirus software. Ransomware is continually evolving and having a backup method for any system breaches is than depending on only one.

Update your system software

Hackers are cunning and often times they look for vulnerabilities both in the software itself and on users who have lapsed on updating to current versions. Make sure that your security updates are enabled and installed to occur on a regular basis.

These are just a few simple things that can be done to avoid having you and your computer exploited by ransomware. Stay tune for an upcoming post on what you can if you believe your computer has already been victimized by ransomware.

Photo Credit: redjar via CC

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Sarah Hartshorn is a marketing, public relations and social media professional with Vuze. She blogs about content, torrents, social media and a number of other tech topics. Sarah has been involved with traditional and digital marketing since 1998.