Ransomware: How to Protect Yourself Because You Need to Be Ready

Last updated on February 18, 2020 Comments: 1
Even those of us who spend more time in reality than in its virtual equivalent have heard plenty about ransomware over the past few years but what will come as a surprise is just how long this technology has been around. The first ransomware attack took place 30 years ago and, since then this type of malicious software has become increasingly sophisticated.

Ransomware attacks is a type of malware that infects your device and either threatens to publish your sensitive data or encrypts all your information, locking you out of your own device, until you cough up the requested ransom.

As ransomware becomes increasingly sophisticated, so the demand for top-quality ransomware protection increases. Not all cybersecurity software is capable of keeping such threats at bay but the top antivirus providers can, which is why you should read on and find out how you can get the best ransomware protection for 2020.

In this article

What You’re Up Against When it Comes to a Ransomware Attack

As we mentioned earlier, ransomware becomes increasingly sophisticated with each attack and some of the latest ransomware variants create a different decryption key with each attack, making it extremely difficult to remove. Anatola ransomware was released at the beginning of the year and there have already been over 100 attacks in the US alone.

Anatola can avoid detection until its work is complete, at which point users will be asked for a steep ransom of around $700. Anatola uses modules to extend its capabilities which creates a serious threat of future cyber crimes using sensitive information collecting during the infection period. That means you could be exploited even if you don’t pay the ransom and manage to remove the infection.

With the worst ransomware attacks affecting larger organizations like local government offices and hospitals, it’s easier for individual private users to become complacent, but now is not the time! If you’re a fan of the Internet of Things, you might want to reconsider your level of interconnectivity in light of Kaspersky’s findings that suggest that IoT products are an “easy target” and that cybercriminals could turn your Bluetooth toaster into “a powerful device for illegal activity, such as spying, stealing, and blackmailing”.

The Best Ransomware Protection for 2020

#1 McAfee

This globally recognized antivirus software company was founded back in 1987 and has had over thirty years to perfect their craft. That being said, they take ransomware very seriously letting users install a ransomware interceptor for free on their website. As it states on the McAfee website;

“Ransomware malware has evolved to be a tremendous threat over the last few years. Such malware will install on your system, encrypt or damage data on your system in a way that in many cases is irrecoverable unless you have a decryption key. Consumers may have to pay the malware authors hefty amounts of money (varies from a few 100 to a 1000 USD) to obtain the recovery key. Failure to do so typically results in permanent loss of data.”

So, how does this antivirus company help in terms of ransomware? There is the McAfee Endpoint security which will keep all your .DAT files up to date and will use the McAfee Global Threat Intelligence which has millions of sensors monitoring for all unique ransomware signatures.

There is also Web Protection which looks at website reputations in order to warn you and prevent you from visiting websites where ransomware is distributed.

There is also the McAfee Application Control offering you a dual layer defense including whitelisting technologies as well as memory protection. This helps prevent binaries coming from any untrusted sources as well as blocking zero-day exploits.

One of the best things about this program is that this is one of the friendliest antiviruses out on the market at the moment. The client is incredibly informative, showing you all the necessary information and keeping you up to date on the current state of your device. Another handy feature that not many antivirus tools will not have available is that you don’t have to reboot your device after installation.

You will also easily be able to access and tune anti-spam settings, parental controls, configure the firewall as well as schedule automatic scans. If you get stuck you can always check out the FAQ section on the website, call the toll-free customer service line, send an email or contact tech support via the live chat. This is one antivirus company that has excellent customer service access for all customers.

If you want to know more, you can read our in-depth McAfee review here.

#2 AVG

AVG is one of those strange and rare creatures that offers a service that works without actually charging for it! Many free cybersecurity products, including anti-viruses, firewalls, and VPNs, actually do more damage than good which is why AVG stands out from the crowd. Yes, you’ll get a few pop-ups suggesting you should upgrade to the more comprehensive AVG Internet Security option, but beyond that, you’ll also get a solid and effective anti-virus.

AVG Ultimate is an affordable cybersecurity suite that can quickly safeguard your device and its storage facilities against all types of malware, using artificial intelligence to update your level of security and give you the best ransomware protection of 2020. Another horse in the AVG stable is there Internet Security option which performs better than Kaspersky when it comes to malware detection and allows you to protect specific folders using their Ransomware Shield protection.

While the free anti-virus software from AVG is effective, it is limited, while the full AVG cyber security suite will give you all-around protection against everything from phishing to the most sophisticated of ransomware threats. An in-depth review can be read here.

What to Do in the Event of a Ransomware Attack

Maybe you’re sitting reading this on your friend’s smartphone because your device is currently in the stranglehold of the latest, most malicious form of ransomware. So, if you’ve been infected, what should you do?

1. Don’t Pay

Tempting as it may be to hand over the cryptocurrency and bring your nightmare to an end, cybersecurity experts are advising ransomware victims not to pay. The moment you cough up, you’re facilitating the criminals in their unlawful endeavors and even then there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get your files back. Statistics indicate that less than 50% of ransomware victims who paid up were able to decrypt their files and see their device return to normal

2. Disconnect

Just as you would avoid other people if you had an infectious disease, so you need to effectively place your infected device into quarantine. This means you should disconnect your device from all networks, external devices like printers and hard drives, and from the internet. Some of the latest ransomware attacks will spread exponentially using peer-to-peer file sharing so, to limit the damage, you need to isolate your device from all others as quickly as possible.

3. Identify

Finding out what type of ransomware you’re dealing with is the first step to successful removal but if you’re as technologically challenged as I am, you’ll find that a rather daunting task. Fortunately, some kind techies out there are dealing with these problems for you and by uploading your ransom note to a site like ID Ransomware, you should be able to find out the nature of the beast!

4. Decide

At this point, you need to decide what action you’re going to take and you basically have three options. You can pay the ransom but, as we already mentioned, this isn’t recommended and won’t guarantee the return of your files. You can try and remove the ransomware using free ransomware removal software like those offered by Kaspersky and AVG, which will usually work effectively on common ransomware problems. The third option is to completely wipe your system, format the hard drives and start again from scratch. That may sound terrifying but, if you’re in the habit of making regular backups, then your data loss will be minimal.

5. Prevent

Now you’ve experienced the negative consequences of a ransomware attack, you’re probably determined to make sure it never happens again. In addition to installing the best ransomware protection for 2020, you should also introduce a strict backup regime using external storage devices and make sure all your apps are up-to-date with the latest security patches.

How to Prevent a Ransomware Attack

Here are a few important tips that will help protect you and your devices from potential ransomware infection:

  1. Make sure you have a complete security suite, including anti-virus and firewall, from a reputable cybersecurity company known for providing the best ransomware protection.
  2. Backup your files to an external storage device on a regular basis
  3. Do not provide any sensitive private information over text message or email.
  4. Allow your antivirus to scan and filter your emails and attachments
  5. Keep all your software up-to-date with the latest security patches.

It’s certainly not rocket science but taking these five small steps could mean the difference between losing out to cybercriminals or deflecting their nefarious efforts.

Bottom Line

A ransomware attack doesn’t have to leave you with your hands tied and your bank account empty but prevention is definitely better than cure, which is why investing in the best ransomware protection for 2020 is something that shouldn’t be delayed. A serious ransomware attack could result in you losing a lot more than just your files and a few hundred dollars and, should cybercriminals get their hands on your personal data, you could experience the long drawn-out complications of identity theft.

As technology becomes increasingly advanced, so it’s basically a race between those developing the next line of ransomware and those, like Kaspersky, who is hustling to keep up with the cybersecurity requirements needed to deflect and decrypt such attacks. Although installing the best ransomware protection will go a long way to keeping you and your device safe, regular back-ups to an external storage device are also essential. You can further reduce your vulnerability by keeping your apps up-to-date and fully functioning.

Although some suggest crypto-mining malware is overtaking ransomware as the top cyberthreat of 2020, over 80% of cybersecurity experts are still predicting that more ransomware attacks will take place this year than in any previous 12-month period. Furthermore, whatever actions you take to protect yourself against ransomware will also improve your chances of avoiding other types of hacks and malware attacks, including malicious cryptocurrency mining threats.

Article comments

1 comment
ShaneS says:

Thanks for the great article and information on how to potentially avoid Ransomware. Thanks Cassie