“Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”
That’s the dreaded message that greeted people hit with the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack. Hundreds of thousands of computers were infected, and many people lost their computer files, money, and time and suffered immeasurable aggravation and embarrassment.
It’s been a couple of years since then, and, experts agree, ransomware is still “alive and well.”
What is a ransomware attack?
Ransomware is a nasty and scary form of malware that blocks and encrypts user data, then is held for ransom. It can block access to your personal information or threaten to disable your devices unless you pay for the password to decrypt and unlock your data.
This can be very profitable for online criminals, and there is no guarantee that users who pay a ransom will get full access to their systems again. Plus, if payment is demanded via credit card, for example, criminals may then have access to your card details, enabling them to commit further theft and fraud.
The rising threat of mobile ransomware
Last year, mobile ransomware infections increased by 33%, and it’s getting worse. Most alarming was a rapid increase in ransomware infections on mobile devices, up by a third compared to the previous year. The U.S. was the worst affected by mobile ransomware, accounting for 63 per cent of infections.
Ransomware targeting Android devices is becoming quite advanced in its complexity, especially compared to older ransomware families such as DoubleLocker.
But there’s nothing good about it. With almost twenty thousand detections every single day, ransomware is on the rise and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.
So, how do you defend yourself against ransomware?
Following specific safety protocols can effectively protect your devices from ransomware attacks.
Here are five ways to protect yourself from ransomware:
- Install antivirus software: The first line of defence is having a reputable and up-to-date antivirus package installed. Today’s advanced antivirus programs have expanded to cover various other types of malware such as ransomware, spyware, spam, and phishing attacks. They are now better tuned to block ransomware, while a few even claim they can clean up the mess after the fact.
- Avoid suspicious emails and links: Do not open suspicious email attachments and click on links, even if you know and trust the sender – most ransomware is distributed via phishing emails.
- Backup your data: Make regular offline backups. Since some variants of ransomware can delete backup copies on your computer and network drives, save your files on an external drive or in the cloud. This will ensure you don’t lose any files if a ransomware attack targets you.
- Update your software: Keep your OS and all your software updated and patched.
- Don’t use torrents: Beware of pirated content and software, usually distributed via P2P and torrent sites, including malware.
Make sure you:
- Have an up-to-date and reliable antivirus package installed on your device
- Avoid opening suspicious emails or links
- Frequently backup your data offline
- Ensure your OS and software are updated
- Avoid pirated p2p content.