Ransomware is among the worst types of malicious software. Per the name, ransomware takes control of computers and refuses to relinquish it until a ransom is paid. In many cases, this ransom takes the form of gift card codes and other forms of digital currency, but in some instances, the perpetrators’ demands are far less reasonable. As such, it’s in all of our best interests to avoid ransomware attacks at all costs.
However, in order to take preventative measures against ransomware, we must first understand what causes them. Anyone looking to steer clear of ransomware should take care to avoid the following mistakes.
1. Lacking Dedicated Security Software
If you’re serious about preventing ransomware attacks, dedicated security software should be among the weapons at your disposal. However, since many modern-day operating systems are equipped with antivirus and cybersecurity properties, people often believe that they have sufficient protection without the aforementioned software.
While it’s true that system-based security features have come a long way, there’s still no substitute for dependable security software. That being the case, if your computer currently lacks this software, you’d do well to remedy the situation posthaste. In addition to helping with ransomware removal, the right security software will work in conjunction with your operating system to provide first-rate protection against ransomware and a bevy of other cyber threats.
2. Visiting Unsafe Websites
Unsecured websites are breeding grounds for ransomware and other viruses. As such, it’s recommended that you actively avoid suspicious sites at all costs. Luckily, there are a number of ways to discern whether or not a site poses a security risk. For starters, dedicated security software, browsers, and operating systems will often present people with warnings when they’re about to enter potentially dangerous websites. So, the next time you’re presented with such a warning, it’s in your best interest to heed it.
Secondly, it’s generally not a good sign when a site lacks a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate, as this indicates that user information will not be kept safe when moving from server to server. You can identify an SSL-certified website by looking for an “S” that follows the “HTTPS” in the web address.
You should also be wary of sites – particularly eCommerce sites – that lack a trust seal. This seal is represented by a padlock icon that sits to the left of a site’s URL and indicates that the site’s owners are working with a dedicated security partner.
3. Downloading Software from Unsafe Sources
Infected software installation files are popular Trojan horses for ransomware. To help ensure that you never fall for such an underhanded trick, you should only download software from websites that meet the security criteria outlined above. Additionally, you should always be suspicious of installation files that are sent as email attachments, especially with messages from unfamiliar sources.
Even after downloading an installation file from a trusted source, you should run a quick threat scan on it with your security software and/or operating system to provide yourself with an additional layer of protection.
4. Failing to Keep Apps Up to Date
For maximum protection against ransomware and other threats, every piece of software on your computer needs to be updated consistently. This means installing pertinent updates as they become available instead of letting them accumulate. In many cases, these updates are created to fix security vulnerabilities that cybercriminals won’t hesitate to take advantage of.
Installing operating system updates in an expedient fashion is particularly important in combating ransomware attacks. System updates often come with big security upgrades, and the longer you put off installing them, the more vulnerable your PC becomes. For this reason, it’s generally a good idea to set your operating systems and apps to install updates automatically.
A ransomware infection is no joke. By taking control of your computer and demanding compensation in return for letting it go, ransomware developers are actively undermining your online safety and holding your most important data hostage. That being the case, it’s imperative that we all take preemptive measures against ransomware attacks.
Ransomware is on a whole other level than standard-grade computer viruses – which are tough enough to deal with. In the interest of protecting your computer and sensitive info from the machinations of ransomware developers, steer clear of the blunders discussed above.