The odds are high that most people know someone who has undergone a ransomware intrusion. It could be a small business, a big company, or even the police department. If someone hasn’t been personally affected, they’re either extremely lucky or they’ve taken steps to protect their files and computers. Unless a user has backups or the hackers made some sort of mistake, they’re left with two options: pay up or lose their data forever. Prevention is more effective than a cure and, to that end, below are several tips on ransomware removal and protection.
The only backup a user will ever regret is the one they forgot to do. It’s important to regularly back up files and keep a recent backup offsite. Good backups can protect data against not only ransomware but fire, flood, theft, and accidental deletion. Users should encrypt the backups so only they can restore them.
Much of today’s ransomware is distributed via MS Office documents that convince users to enable macros. However, Microsoft has recently released a tool that limits the functionality by preventing users from enabling macros on documents downloaded online.
Consider Installing an Office Viewer
An MS Office viewer allows users to see what an Excel or Word document looks like without using macros. These viewers do not support macros, so they can’t be inadvertently enabled.
Open Unsolicited Attachments With Caution
Most Windows-based ransomware is embedded in documents distributed via email attachments. If a user receives an email attachment they didn’t ask for—or they don’t know the sender—they shouldn’t open it.
Use Login Power Wisely
Users shouldn’t log in as an admin any more often than necessary. It’s also important not to browse, read documents, or perform other regular work while logged in as an administrator.
Use Security Patches
Malware that’s not spread by macros often uses software glitches to propagate itself. However, when users apply patches on a regular basis, they give hackers fewer chances to infect their machines with ransomware.
Train Employees Regularly
Users are often the weakest link, especially if they don’t know how to avoid malicious email attachments and document-based booby traps. It’s important to regularly train employees on the safe and sensible use of corporate networks and email programs.