How to prevent ransomware

Julie Cole
Julie Cole | Contributing Writer
Last updated: July 8, 2021
Man in hoodie using laptop

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Ransomware is a new kind of threat that has been terrorising many people in the past few years. The way it operates is quite sinister. You turn on your computer, and instead of your Operating System loading up, you see that someone has encrypted your files and you must pay a ransom to reaccess it.

We understand how problematic it can be, and we will give you many different tips and tricks on how to prevent ransomware. Not only will we tell you what to do in case you are affected by ransomware, but also how to have the necessary protection measures in place. It is much better to be secure before ransomware threatens your data than to have to engage in damage control.

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What is Ransomware

Ransomware is perhaps the most damaging kind of malware that can infect you. Rather than slow down your PC or have you deal with a tremendous amount of ads, ransomware simply blocks all of your data behind a paywall. What is annoying is the fact that once you have been infected with ransomware, it is almost impossible to be able to decrypt your data.

Ransomware is usually downloaded from a file which people believe to be safe. However, as soon as they click on the executable (or when they restart their PC), they realise that all of their data has probably been lost. Let’s take a look at how to prevent ransomware.

Preventive measures to deal with Ransomware

There are specific actions you can perform which will reduce your chances of downloading ransomware. We will be taking you through 3 different preventive measures that any person who spends a lot of time on the internet should take.

Use Anti-Virus Software

Use Anti Virus Software

The first thing that you should do is to have a security system for your PC in place. Anti-Virus software could very well be what saves your data and lets you know whether a file is malicious or not. It will also protect you from viruses, malware, and any other threats that your PC might be under.

We recommend you take a look at Norton Anti-Virus. Norton is one of the best security systems available in the market and is managed by Symantec Corporation. Using Norton will reduce the chances of you downloading ransomware considerably.

Use a VPN

Since the most common way of spreading ransomware is through the internet, you can use a VPN to encrypt all data that you send and receive. A VPN will also protect your online anonymity and make sure that you have a secure connection with the server you are trying to connect to.

There is also a relatively large chance that you download ransomware through a torrent file. Remember that it is best not to download ‘.exe.’ files from torrents as it is the easiest way to spread any kind of malicious file. If you are using torrents, it is best if you only download files which cannot be executed, e.g. videos, music, and photos.

Also, remember always to use a VPN when accessing Public WiFi. It is straightforward for someone to infect your computer with ransomware when you are on an open network.

There are many different VPNs that you can use, but since your main goal is to have the best possible security, we recommend you use TorGuard. TorGuard is a VPN designed with torrenting in mind, and the nature of ransomware means that you will be much safer using TorGuard rather than anything else.

Back-Up your files regularly

man using laptop with external drive

This is the last thing that you can do in case you do end up being infected by ransomware. Having a back-up of all of your files will mean that even if you do somehow manage to download ransomware on your computer and your data is locked behind a paywall, you will be able to restore your data easily.

Of course, if you follow the measures mentioned above, you should need to access your back-up at all. However, it is best to be sure which is why you should aim to back-up your files at least once a month.

What to do if you download ransomware

Even though you now know how you can take necessary precautions to guard yourself against ransomware, there is still a small chance that you will become a victim. Now, we will take you through some of the things that you can do when you do see that dreaded screen asking you to pay a ransom.

Do not pay the ransom

If you pay to get access to your data, you are not only encouraging highly illegal activity, but you have no assurances that you will gain access to your data. Some ransomware only knows how to encrypt the data. This means that no matter how much money you pay, your files may be locked behind the encryption forever.

Format your PC

Since you can no longer access your files, it is best to completely remove every single trace of ransomware that was on your PC. The only way to do this is by completely formatting your Hard Disk or Solid State Drive. If you followed the steps mentioned above, then you will be able to format your PC without a significant loss of data.

Restore from Back-Up

This is why we mentioned you should create a back-up even when you have the necessary prevention measures in place. Since there is no point in paying the ransom and you cannot access your data anymore, it is best to format your drive and then use the back-up that you have to restore the data.

Using a cloud back-up is not the most efficient solution in this case. Instead, invest in an external HDD and have your data ready to be transferred back into your drive as soon as you perform the format. External HDDs are quite cheap but have a lot of space, making them much better than cloud back-ups in this regard.

 

Now that you know how to prevent ransomware remember to make sure that you do not take its threat lightly. It is crucial for you back-up your data regularly. For increased security, consider creating multiple back-ups. Also, remember to use a VPN for all internet traffic and have your Anti-Virus software vet all files entering your system.

 

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8 comments
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  1. Nick Davis

    For those of you who use Windows 10, you don’t have to worry as much about ransomware. They are always updating the firewall to help prevent it from happening. You still need to take extra steps beyond this to ensure you don’t find yourself in some sort of data breach. For the most part, Malware is easily detected and wiped off. I personally recommend people using Advanced System Care alongside Windows Security. It is not bulky, easy to use, and I have not had a single Trojan threat. I don’t think a lot of people fully understand what ransomware is or how they manage to get it on their computers. Thankfully people like you work to inform the public. I said this 10 years ago and I will say it today, computer security is something that needs to be taught in school to kids age 12+.


    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks for your comment. However, it’s not so simple as that: ransomware, and in general phishing and other kinds of malware, depends on user behavior, not so much on operating system. If you get a strange email with sophisticated malware, and you click on it/download it, you’ll have your system affected, whatever kind of system it is.

      The best defense is always vigilance, and having good antivirus software on your machine.

      Thanks for reading!

      Julie


  2. Jared

    The chance of downloading ransomware seems to be quite high. I would hate to get a ransomware message telling me to pay for my own data. I’ll definitely start backing up my data more frequently and ensuring that I Have a recovery option available should I need it. I think this is even more important when using a network server , as the entire server could be held ransom. Or am I incorrect? I definitely think the every day pc user needs to be more aware of the risks and threats out there.


  3. reddragon10001

    haha it’s so funny these guys think they could get anything out of me. I will delete EVERYTHING with a smile and reset my entire rig before I pay a single dime to a cowardly thief who decides that they can come after me.


  4. Malia K

    This is really instructive ! I knew about ransomware (thinking no one would ever want to ransom me) but I guess it’s safer to know what do to in case it happens one day !


  5. Charles H

    In the past recent years, ransomware has become one of the leading threat terrorizing people. It can be so problematic to deal but thanks for the tips and tricks to handle this ransomware


  6. Mimir S. Danielsen

    We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


  7. Ahbee8AiS3z

    I use Norton anti-virus and have an automatic backup stored on their cloud servers so hopefully I’m safe if anything happens to my computer. I’ve heard about ransomware but wasn’t clear about the details of how it works. Thanks for the information about ways to keep your data safe, I feel much better about my privacy. Do you think I should also be running anti-virus on my iPhone?

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