Today we learned of a massive attack or series of attacks of ransomware targeting thousands of organizations in some 74 countries. The most profile attack was on the National Health Service (NHS) in United Kingdom that hit many hospitals across the country with patients being directly impacted and some surgeries cancelled.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a specific form of malware (malicious software) that installs itself on and locks up computer systems. Then to get access back to the computer, the ransomware demands a payment of hundreds of dollars in digital currency in order to remove itself. That’s where the word “ransom” comes in.
Big organizations are not the only ones that get targeted by ransomware and other malware attacks. Small businesses and individuals can also be a target.
How to Protect Against Ransomware?
Protecting your system against ransomware is much the same as defending against other malware.
The biggest impact and effectiveness of ransomeware is that it prevents users from accessing their software and data, including documents, pictures, and videos. So the first thing you must do is back-up your data on a regular basis to an external drive that is not connected to the Internet. This way if your system gets infected and all your data is backed up, then you have the choice of factory re-setting the system instead of paying the ransom.
Be extremely weary of emails with links and attachments, even if they come from friends as private email accounts can be compromised and spamware sent from those accounts. If the link does not link to the actual domain of a commercial website (i.e. www.gmail.com.xuyga.email as opposed to www.gmail.com) this is a red-hot sign of a phishing attempt and that the page will try to steal your email credentials (gmail in this case) or install something malicious.
Use antivirus software. Don’t open attachments unless absolutely sure they are legitimate. Even then, an antivirus will scan attachments for malware and nefarious installation attempts.
Always update your browsers and other software. Whether the software is installed on your computer or on the Web, such as WordPress. Always ensure you have the latest update installed as most updates are made to fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers.
Never pay for ransom. This is strong advice from authorities. Paying for ransom does not guarantee that your data will be unlocked and will only serve to embolden ransomware attackers. It is better to reset your system to factory settings, restore your files from a back up, or use a data recovery service.
At Domain Market Pro, our hosting is secured by a firewall and brute-force protection, passwords are required to have 100% secure rating, and we encourage all clients to use the free SSL option for their domain shops. However, much can be done on the individual basis as described above.