How to protect our computer from ransomware?

Published: 17 December 2018

Ransomware are malicious programs that encrypt files on the computer they have access to and sometimes make full drives inaccessible. Cybercriminals launch targeted attacks, and after the viruses are activated, they demand ransom in return for the owner being able to access the data again.

Several methods are used to spread ransomware, but the most common is to hide the malware or its downloader in e-mail attachments, while in other cases the download starts when you click on an infected website. When installing a virus, hackers usually exploit the vulnerability of a computer system (watering hole). The best known ransomware are WannaCry, PetrWrap, SamSam, and Hucky, a Hungarian ransomware.

Who can be the targets?

Virtually anyone (individual, company or public institution) can fall victim to ransomware. Primarily such organizations, businesses or individuals are at risk where hackers encounter outdated IT systems or devices, where there is no time to deal with IT security, often despite the huge security risk, such as in hospitals.

What should I do if my computer gets infected?

Paying a ransom is by no means a good idea because there is no guarantee that the hackers will restore the encrypted files. Criminals rarely let go of a computer that they have managed to infect, and the malicious code remaining on your machine means future security risks.

If you are a ransomware victim, ask for expert help or contact the 'No more Ransom' (https://www.nomoreransom.org/hu/index.html) initiative, where Hungary is also a member and where the authorities and international companies join their forces in combating ransomware.

The best defense is prevention

The best defence against ransomware is mostly prevention by following the tips below:

  • Do not open unknown or suspicious emails. Attachments or links in them can be particularly dangerous.
  • Do not connect an unknown flash drive to your computer even out of curiosity.
  • Back up your files or even your entire system on a regular basis.
  • It is important to store the backup separately from the system itself, otherwise it can also be accessed by the malware.
  • Avoid suspicious websites.
  • Refer to your browser’s warnings.
  • Install antivirus protection and take time to update it regularly.
  • Also regularly update your operating system and programs.

Reports on the attacks by ransomware PetrWrap, WannaCry and Samsam: