October 27, 2020
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How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks Using Microsoft Security Solutions

You log onto your computer just like you do every day only to see your screen locked and your device unable to boot up, a ransom note or link demanding money or bitcoins appears instead. It's the moment that every computer or mobile device user dreads, Ransomware. In this case, you would need to know how to prevent ransomware!

What is Ransomware?

Ordinarily falling victim to a ransom plot means that you are the son or daughter of some rich person and the only way to get out of it is by paying tons of money. These days being held for ransom can happen quite differently with your computer of all things. Ransomware is a particularly diabolical type of malware that has been making headlines recently. How to prevent ransomware? Implementing effective security measures like Microsoft ransomware protection is crucial. How to prevent ransomware? Ransomware is a form of malicious software or malicious link which restricts access to your computer or mobile device. It encrypts data until you pay a ransom in exchange for accessing your device or data again. This threat puts you and your data at great risks, thus requiring you some sort of ransomware protection against such a malicious attachment.

Communication Square offers security software and services that will help you mitigate these risks. Whether you are seeking protection for existing emailing solutions or your email address, or you want help migrating to a more secure environment.

If you're short of time and prefer video content, we've got you covered! Watch our latest YouTube video. But if you prefer to read, we also have a detailed blog post for you to dive into. How to configure Microsoft Defender for Business.

How Did Ransomware Attacks Start?

Let's take a step back and see how it all started and what the trends have been. Suspicious activity has been around since the dawn of the internet. It is in short, software created for malicious purposes. It spreads to computers via various sources like spam or phishing email, misleading links, fake software updates, and through exploiting vulnerabilities in the form of malware in web browsers and popular software. A decade ago, a new and particularly sinister type of malware emerged which shows that there are several ransomware variants and criminal activities present.

In 2005, Russian criminals created the first ransomware detection as Trojan Crysis. It was a crude parasite that zipped and password-protected a user’s personal documents. Fast forward to 2012, ransomware exploded across Europe and North America posing as law enforcement alerts accusing victims of piracy, terrorism, and even child pornography. The victims were then urged to pay a two hundred dollar fine or face criminal charges. In 2013, ransomware makers were already extracting more than three million dollars per year from their victims. Then CryptoLocker was released, and the stakes quadrupled overnight, CryptoLocker represented a new family of malware, which encrypts users' photos documents, and other personal files with a uniquely customized secret key. These files could only be restored by paying a ransom to obtain the secret decryption key. Start protecting your data along with remote devices from ransomware and malware attacks with our industry-leading solutions.

How Does Ransomware Occur?

So, here's how defense against ransomware and threat detection works; Once cyber-attacks or ransomware gets on your computer usually through infected email (Phishing attacks), attachment or the all-too-common Trojan horse attack, it will lock your computer or your data in some way and demand payment in exchange for giving control of your system back to you. Some of the simpler forms of ransom somewhere will simply try to fool you into thinking there's something wrong with your computer and get you to pay money to fix it. It's a common tactic that we see in those banner ads that tell you that you've been inexplicably infected by something. Now often with those, you've got at least rudimentary control over your system still. So, the only real issue is that you must deal with these constant pop-ups until you find a way to get rid of the malware.

A much more irritating ransomware threat will lock your computer entirely and keep you from logging into your operating system unless you cough up the money. Many of these varieties of ransomware will display a threatening message purporting to be from the FBI or some other super hardcore police agency. It usually says that your computer was used for something highly illegal, but you can get your computer back and avoid having a tough time just by paying a few hundred dollars. Sounds absurd! Right? But people have fallen victim to this and even if you recognize the fraud immediately those ones can be a real pain to remove. Worst of all is the ransomware that not only locks your system but also encrypts your files and won't provide you with the key to decrypt unless you pay up and the most notable of these being CryptoLocker.

Cybercriminals Have Only One Goal, to Get the Money out of Your Pockets!

Cybercriminals aren't exactly the most trustworthy folks and many people have reported not getting their files back even after paying the ransom demand. On top of that, there are some kinds of ransomware that don't even ask for permission; they just hit your bitcoin wallet and take the money without even giving you a chance to say, ‘Well hold on, let me think about whether this data is actually worth paying for!’ This all prompts you to have ransomware protection and security patches deployed into your system.

How Can I Help Keep My PC Secure And how to prevent ransomware?

So, then how to secure your system from such a risk and how to prevent ransomware? The answer is simple! Through a microsoft ransomware protection. Many of the non-encrypting common types of ransomwares can be removed by booting into safe mode and running an up-to-date anti-malware tool or if that fails to download, then a boot-able removal tool to a flash drive and running that may help. However, if you've been hit by encrypting ransomware type, you're not going to want to hear this but you're out of luck as most of these use an extraordinarily strong encryption algorithm. Just like prevention is better than cure, it is obvious that having ransomware protection could save you a lot of money, and time.

Microsoft ransomware protection

How to Prevent Ransomware Attack

Among the simplest and best ransomware protection practices and security awareness training about how to prevent ransomware, here are a few mentioned below:

  • Make sure your PC is up to date with the latest version of Windows.
  • Turn on Windows Defender Antivirus to combat ransomware.
  • Turn on File History if it hasn’t already by your PC’s manufacturer.
  • Back up the content on your PC regularly.
  • Take advantage of storage space to maintain two copies of your PC data.

You can also look into these Security Awareness Training courses by Udemy to be prepared to learn how to prevent ransomware yourself. By utilizing  free Udemy courses you can enhance your cybersecurity knowledge learn how to protect yourself from ransomware attacks.

What to Do If You Suspect That Your System Is Infected?

Microsoft ransomware protection know the treats to be real enough, thus these tools help your cause of ransomware protection. Whenever you have concerns about your ransomware protection, use security services and anti-malware programs, such as Windows Defender Antivirus. Windows 10 provides the latest antivirus protection with Windows Defender Security Center, which contains Windows Defender Antivirus. When you start up Windows 10 for the first time, Windows Defender Antivirus turns on by default. It actively protects your device by scanning for malware, viruses, and security threats. Windows Defender Antivirus uses real-time protection to scan your downloads and the programs you run on your device. Also, Windows automatically downloads updates for Windows Defender Antivirus to help you learn how to prevent ransomware.

If You Actually Get a Ransomware Infection

Unfortunately, a ransomware infection doesn’t show itself until you see some type of notification. You see it either in a window, an app, suspicious emails or a full-screen message, demanding money to regain access to your PC or files. These messages often display after encrypting your files. Try fully cleaning your PC with Windows Defender Offline.

Windows Defender Offline is a powerful offline scanning tool that runs from a trusted environment, without starting your operating system and protects you from different forms of ransomware. You should do this before you try to recover your files. Also, see Backup and Restore in Windows 10 for help on backing up and recovering files.

Do not pay any money to recover your files. Even if you were to pay the ransom, there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your PC. The best practice, once you have been hit by ransomware, is to investigate Azure consulting options and find out how to prevent ransomware.

What to Do if You Have Already Paid

If you’ve already paid the ransom, immediately contact your bank and your local authorities. If you paid with a credit card, your bank may be able to block the transaction and return your money.

You can also contact the government fraud and fraud reporting websites.

How Does Microsoft protect its users from Ransomware Attacks?

Microsoft ransomware protection uses different techniques on different solutions to protect its users from ransomware attacks.

In case of exchange online Microsoft scans all the emails and email attachments entering or leaving the organization. Admin does not require to set up or maintain any technologies to protect the exchange all the policies are enabled by default. It means there is overhead for the IT team to protect the system. Though, admins may apply company specific filtering on the Exchange admin center.

As we discussed, there are diverse types of ransomware attacks, where all the important files of the organization are encrypted, and the attacker asks for ransom to decrypt the files. If you are storing your important data on the SharePoint or OneDrive versioning will help you to recover your encrypted files. Versioning is also defaulting feature on SharePoint and OneDrive for business so in this case Microsoft is also removing overhead from your IT department.

You can also use different protection techniques and Microsoft services to know how to prevent ransomware.

  • Email protection – Block exe files in basic mail flow and enable Advanced threat protection.
  • Web Protection – Use Cloud App Security so Microsoft Detect, analyze, and respond to malicious behaviors.
  • Device Compliance – User must enroll their device so organization ensures that the device is meeting their security requirements.
  • Backup – Make sure that the backup is not accessible by the user so in case of an attack your backup will remain secure. If the backups are accessible by the user there is a chance that your backups will also be encrypted when come attack happens.
  • Intelligent detection – As we discussed you should use ATA and CAS to protect your data. For Office 365 Apps Advanced Security Management provides the similar functionality.
  • Block macros in Office documents – The most common malware these days are based on Macros. Your organization may completely block the Macros, or you can also configure the trust level.
  • Block known ransomware file types – some of the known extensions used for ransomware attack:
    .ecc, .ezz, .exx, .zzz, .xyz, .aaa, .abc, .ccc, .vvv, .xxx, .ttt, .micro, .encrypted, .locked, .crypto, _crypt, .crinf, .r5a, .XRNT, .XTBL, .crypt, .R16M01D05, .pzdc, .good, .LOL!, .OMG!, .RDM, .RRK, .encryptedRSA, .crjoker, .EnCiPhErEd, .LeChiffre, .keybtc@inbox_com, .0x0, .bleep, .1999, .vault, .HA3, .toxcrypt, .magic, .SUPERCRYPT, .CTBL, .CTB2, .locky or 6-7 length extension consisting of random characters.

How Can Communication Square Help You with Ransomware Protection of Your Network?

No, No!
Don’t panic!
Communication Square is here as always. We help you protect yourself and most importantly protect your data with the guidelines provided by Microsoft. You can also use different protection techniques and Microsoft services to know how to prevent ransomware. This will rob the malware makers of their income and erode the ransomware model from its core because we will show you how to prevent ransomware.
Get serious about your online security. Get secure with our ransomware protection services. Be safe and stay up to date with communication square. Book a strategy call with us now to get started!

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Last Updated 2 weeks ago

About the Author

With a Master’s degree in Information System’s from Griffith University, Awais took up technology to explore his passion for cloud computing and IT security. He has a love for challenges and is fervent about his work.

Awais Khalid

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