The government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has created a ransomware education site: Ransomware | CISA
Because the recent flood of ransomware attacks were made on government agencies and private companies, don’t think you are not vulnerable. Remember that as a home user to:
- Avoid clicking on links in suspicious emails, even where you think you are dealing with a legitimate organization or suspicious activity from someone you know. These phishing emails can have corrupt links or contain malicious attachments.
- Don’t even open unknown emails nor respond.
- Delete junk email. I use webmail for security. Gmail has great spam protection and I know Hotmail and other programs do as well.
- Watch out for visiting suspicious websites, which can load malware without your consent or knowledge (“drive-by downloads”). These malicious software can load ransomware after the initial infection.
- Backup your backups. I keep three copies of my data, one online, and two on external drives. One of the external drives is updated and then disconnected from the home network when done (that’s called “airgapping”).
- Patch your systems through Windows Update (or to Apple’s recommendations for Macs).
- Use better, more complex passwords.
- Set up Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) if it is available on the sites you use, which means another protection measure on top of passwords. I use a hardware key for Gmail and other sites that can use it, but I choose additional protection through text messages when available.
If you do get compromised:
- Do not pay the ransom. CISA and other experts say that it only encourages criminals and you are not guaranteed your data back if you do pay.
- Unplug your computer from the network. Disable wireless and detach any ethernet cables.
- Get help from your ISP representative, anti-malware company representative, or law enforcement.
- If you are insured, contact your insurance company.
- Talk to a legal representative to see if you have to report the incident to law enforcement.
- Get help to wipe and restore your systems from backup.
- Once you have restored your systems, examine what you could have done better:
* Did you use an anti-malware product?
* If you didn’t back up, use cloud backup AND keep an extra copy on an external hard drive.
* When you reset your passwords, use more complex ones.
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