Top 4 Ways to Protect Yourself from a Ransomware Attack

Last week, it was reported that the National Crime Agency (NCA) has teamed up with the FBI and other cybercrime experts to take down a criminal network’s ‘command and control’, giving the public up to two weeks to protect themselves against malware such as Gameover, Zeus, GOZeus, or P2PZeus, and ransomware such as Cryptolocker.

The botnets, dubbed GameoverZeus (GoZ), are seemingly able to steal money from accounts as well as using webcams to spy on people and holding email addresses, bank details and other sensitive information to ransom.

The work done by the NCA and other crime agencies have halted the criminal network for now, however there is still a major threat to all Windows users.

Andy Archibald, Deputy Director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Nobody wants their personal financial details, business information or photographs of loved ones to be stolen or held to ransom by criminals. By making use of this two week window, huge numbers of people in the UK can stop that from happening to them.”

1. Updates, updates, updates
A threat to cyber security is really nothing new, in fact there are reports of a new hack or threat almost every week.

Updating your system’s firewall and anti-virus software is the easiest way you can help protect it against nasties. Do this, then set it to automatically update, meaning you’re protected at all times.

2. Don’t get trigger happy!
Are you 100% sure where that email came from? If not, don’t click on any attachments or links.

Phishing emails is one of the easiest ways for scammers to get into your computer and at all of your details, so make sure you can tell a fake attachment from the real deal. The best rule to follow is: if you’re not sure, don’t!

3. Time to scan
So you’ve updated your software and vowed to never click a dodgy link, what next?

It’s time to set up a computer scan, a regular one, to weed out any infected files and rectify them. Fast. Both AVG and Kaspersky offer free anti-virus software with a built in scan tool that will throw up anything dodgy and allow you to get rid of them before they do much, or any damage.

4. Change your passwords
We’ve been told to change our passwords on an almost monthly basis in 2014. First, there were the sites attacked by Heartbleed, and then the eBay hack. It’s time to change them again.

Make sure the password you choose is complex – a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols is perfect, but also make sure you have a different password for every site. The easiest and best way to do this is to get a good password manager – a simple Google search will flag up the best ones.

With up to 15,000 computers in the UK already infected with GameoverZeus malware, the threat is large and ongoing and isn’t going to go away. Global experts have already warned that attackers will come back ‘even larger and more robust’ than ever before. There has already been one confirmed malware case whereby a Trojan called Simplelocker targets SD cards that slot into Android devices such as mobile phones and tablets and scrambles the internal data. The data can be unscrambled, but it’ll cost you.

So what’s going to happen at the end of our two week ‘grace period’? Well, nothing really. As long as you’ve taken our steps above, you should be just fine.

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