Simple Steps to Defend Against Viruses, Spyware and Adware

Preventing Ransomware: Best Practices

Ransomware continues to make headlines constantly as hackers find success with this particularly effective breed of malware. We all dread it, no matter how hard we try to keep our data secure: the locked screen demanding we pay up or we never see our valuable data again.

Fortunately, there are ways to stay free of ransomware if you educate yourself to the best practices out there. A good place to start is a powerful anti-ransomware solution like Sophos Intercept X, while also making use of best practices in general to stay safe.

Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-site.

Ransomware can be treated much like a natural disaster, despite not being natural at all. To protect against things like fire, flood, theft, a dropped laptop, or even an accidental delete, it’s a solid best practice to always do a regular backup of your files and encrypt your backup. The same tactic to protect against catastrophic environmental damage also works in the event of ransomware.

Enable file extensions.

The default Windows setting has file extensions disabled. This means that you have to rely on the file thumbnail to identify the type of file. Enabling extensions makes it much easier to identify file types that are not commonly sent, such as JavaScript, so you can more readily identify potentially dangerous files.

Open JavaScript files in Notepad.

Opening a JavaScript file in Notepad blocks it from running any malicious scripts and allows you to examine the file contents.

Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email.

Microsoft turned off auto-execution of macros by default many years ago as a security measure. A lot of infections rely on persuading you to turn macros back on. We highly recommend you don’t do that.

Be cautious about unsolicited attachments.

Curiosity killed the cat, and it also leads the unwary end user to getting caught with ransomware. Don’t open unsolicited attachments. Cybercriminals rely on users not paying attention, or otherwise falling victim to files they shouldn’t have opened.

Don’t enable more login power than the user needs.

Whether it's your own machine or devices you manage for others, limit how much login power available. Don’t stay logged in as an administrator any longer than necessary and avoid browsing, opening documents, or other regular work activities while you have administrator rights, and make sure end users you manage don’t have more power than they need, no matter how savvy or responsible they are.

Patch early, patch often.

Malware that doesn’t come in via a document often relies on security bugs in popular applications, including Microsoft Office, your browser, Flash, and more. If you stay up to date on patching, you’ll be far less vulnerable to potential exploits.

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