Community News Security

Ransomware: minimise impact

Ransomware is used by cyber criminals to block you from accessing your data and hold it ‘hostage’ until you pay the ransom. How does it work and how to avoid losing control over your data? Read our tips and tricks below and become a cyber hero!

Tip 1

Ransomware takes advantage of security breaches in computer systems and software. How can I protect myself effectively?

Be sure to regularly update your operating system and any software you use. This will reduce the risk of ransomware-type malware intruding your computer, tablet or smartphone through a door left open by the lack of updates.

Also pay attention to systems or software that are no longer supported and therefore no longer receive a security update. In this case, consider replacing them with a version that is still supported.

Tip 2

Too late! My computer has been infected by ransomware, what can I do to prevent the damages of such attack?

Prevention is better than cure. Be sure to make a regular backup of your data on disconnected support and regularly test the restores of these backups. This will allow you to recover your important data if you have still been the victim of an attack.

Attackers put pressure on their victims by encrypting important files, making them inaccessible. If you have backup copies, you can restore your files after the infection is cleared.

The advice is valid for ransomware but also for IT in general. Hard drives or other memory systems are not fool proof.

Tip 3

If I experience a ransomware attack, can my colleagues be impacted?

An entire organisation can come to a complete halt as a result of a ransomware attack. Several examples already exist.

Beware that ransomware can spread to other systems. So if you are infected, you should always let ICT-helpdesk or staff within your organisation know and turn off your device and disconnect it from the Lan, the Wifi and the internet. In that way you will protect the rest of your organisation.

Tip 4

I usually sign in with my “administrator” account rather than my “user” account. Does this make me more vulnerable?

Yes. The administrator of a computer has a number of privileges on it, such as performing certain actions or accessing certain hidden files on the computer. In the event of a successful attack, ransomware or other malware can be easily installed. Use the administrator account only if necessary and  try to use a user account. This will slow down or even deter the hacker in their malicious actions and help to minimise damage.

Tip 5

Got a message saying my files are being held hostage? Do I have to pay the ransom to free them?

Giving into blackmail, when you can afford to pay the ransom, is a bad idea. There is no guarantee that hackers will provide you with the key that will allow you to decrypt your files or unlock your computer.

At www.nomoreransom.org, you can have locked files scanned (click on “Crypto Sheriff”) to determine the type of ransomware. If a key is available, it will be shared with you to release your files.

But above all, report the crime to the police. This can be used to trace cyber criminals and prevent them from claiming further victims.