Ransom ware seems to have gotten the better of many ordinary users. However, it is not a threat that has no mitigation measures available to the ordinary user, but is more of following good basic security and hygiene practices, to not fall prey to a ransom ware threat. Do the following:
- If you use Linux, half the battle won. But if you use Microsoft Windows, make sure you patch regularly.
- Use an email client like Thunderbird, Evolution or even MS Outlook, rather than logging into email with a web browser. Make sure that you display HTML email as normal text in-line.
- Do not fall prey to spam or phishing attacks. In a phishing attack, someone send you an email that appears to be so genuine that you tend to click on links or attachments within it. Such email also has genuine offers like 30% off on LED TV sets, or phones, or whatever. But, when you click on the link or attachment, it downloads and installs an application that could be ransom ware.
- Ransom ware also uses Microsoft Office macros to spread. Make sure that macros are not executed or even if set to execute, you have high security. Some organizations have been hit by ransom ware through macros in word documents that appear to be invoices from suppliers. Click on it, and files on the hard disk get encrypted.
- Block ads using AdBlock Plus. Yes… online advertising popups can be malicious. These are commonly referred to as malvertising. AdBlock Plus takes you that extra step.
- Scan your computer regularly for viruses. Make sure you have a good anti-virus or anti-malware installed. Use those by MalwareBytes or Kaspersky if on Windows.
- Last and most important… cannot be said enough… take regular backups of data. If you lose your data, you can at least restore it back from a backup.
Hope this helps you to protect yourself.