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Eight Best Security Practices to Stay Protected Against Ransomware

James Lord, IT Infrastructure Manager Sep 28, 2018

Businesses around the world are constantly under threat from increasingly sophisticated ransomware attacks. So how can you stay protected against ransomware?

1. Patch, patch and patch again

Malware that doesn’t come in via a document often relies on security bugs in popular applications, including Microsoft Office, your browser, Flash and more. Patch early and patch often to ensure there are fewer holes left to be exploited.

2. Enable file extensions

The default Windows setting is to have file extensions disabled, meaning you must rely on the file thumbnail to identify it. Enabling extensions makes it much easier to spot file types that wouldn’t commonly be sent to you and your users, such as JavaScript.

3. Open JavaScript (.JS) files in Notepad

JavaScript files are another way you might get infected via email attachments. Opening a JavaScript file in Notepad instead of in Windows blocks it from running any malicious scripts and allows you to examine the file contents.

4. Don’t stay logged in whilst browsing elsewhere 

Don’t stay logged in as an administrator any longer than is necessary and avoid browsing, opening documents or other regular work activities while you have administrator rights.

5. Don’t enable email macros

Using macros, you can personalize automatic emails or manual emails to include specific information about the recipient, such as their first name or company name. A macro is a code that gets replaced with information specific to each recipient. However, a lot of infections rely on persuading you to turn macros back on, so don’t do it! Microsoft deliberately turned off auto-execution of macros by default many years ago as a security measure.

6. Backup often and keep a recent backup copy off-line and off-site

This point is not just to protect against hackers! There are dozens of ways other than ransomware that files can suddenly disappear. Individuals or your business could experience a fire, flood, theft, a dropped laptop or even an accidental delete. Encrypt your backup and you won’t have to worry about the backup device falling into the wrong hands.

7. Stay up-to-date with new security features in your business applications

For example, Office 2016 now includes a control called “Block macros from running in Office files from the internet”, which helps protect against external malicious content without stopping you using macros internally.

Also, On April 30th 2018, Microsoft announced the addition of advanced security features in Microsoft 365 Business to further protect your businesses from cyber threats and to safeguard sensitive information. Read up on it!

8. Be cautious when opening unsolicited email attachments

Always use caution when opening files that come from someone you do not know, or if you were not expecting them. The bandits are relying on the dilemma that you shouldn’t open a document until you are sure it’s one you want, but you can’t tell if it’s one you want until you open it. If in doubt leave it out.

Securing your endpoints with Sophos Intercept X

Sophos Intercept X is the world’s most comprehensive endpoint protection. It combines signatureless exploit prevention, deep learning malware detection, and the most advanced ransomware protection yet to deliver unparalleled defence against known and unknown threats. Contact us to arrange a call with our in-house Sophos certified engineer to find out how to protect your business or find out more on our Data Security Services page.

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