Usually, the ransomware bad guys are baiting users to click on infected email links or to open infected attachments – then the attack starts. A message is displayed on the screen and victims are asked to pay a ransom in virtual currency (bitcoin).

The ransomware sector grew throughout 2018 – and 2019 is already looking like a banner year. So far this year, there have been many attacks, even including those on Mac computers. With this attack vector on a steep growth curve, it’s critical to prevent these attacks now.

Here are 5 tips to avoid getting hit by ransomware:

1. Make safe and secure backups

It’s clear that once you’ve saved all your important data, the attackers have lost their leverage over you. Still, ransomware is becoming increasingly sophisticated and they are even targeting backup files on external drives. In this case, you should make multiple backups to cloud services and use physical drives at regular intervals. Also, it’s a good idea to do a file backup that remains entirely disconnected from your network.

2. Update and patch your systems

Malware creators count on people running outdated software with certain vulnerabilities, which they can exploit to get into your system. For this reason, keeping your device updated dramatically reduces the risk of having your computer infected. Enable automatic updates, if possible. Because malware can be disguised as a software update notification, if you are unsure about a message, go straight to the software developer’s website.

3. Use an antivirus software and a firewall

It’s useful to have both anti-malware software and a software firewall in place to help you identify threats or suspicious behavior. Malware creators frequently update their work in order to avoid detection so you should take both preventive measures. If you have already clicked on malware without performing any precautions, than your options are limited. Get tested antivirus protection. After all, we have recently shown the reactions our Avira Protection Lab guys got from the ransomware creators.

4. Train yourself and those around you

Security starts between the headphones – for you and everyone using your computer. Train yourself and others to not click on questionable links or suspicious attachments. Also, it’s important that system administrators limit employee access to only parts of the network that are critical to their work. This reduces the risk of having a network infected with ransomware.

5. Unplug the source

The bad guys will try to keep your files encrypted until you pay the ransom. But you shouldn’t do that. Law enforcement agencies discourage making ransom payments as they only reward the bad guys and give them the resources needed to make other attacks. Also, paying them doesn’t necessary mean that you will recover the locked data.

So, keeping this advice in mind and applying it will help you keep one step ahead of the ransomware attackers. Until you leave your guard down…