IT Blog


How to Protect Yourself Against Ransomware

Firstly, do you know what ransomware is?

If not, find out. Here’s a possible introduction link.


Get Smart. Get Protected

The pernicious rise of ransomware is a frightening prospect for everyday users and companies alike. By the end of 2015, Trend Micro predicted 2016 would become the Year of Online Extortion—and unfortunately, that prediction has proved true. In the first half of 2016 alone, a total of 79 new ransomware families were discovered by Trend Micro—marking a 172% increase over the whole of 2015—while nearly 80 million ransomware threats were detected and blocked by Trend Micro over the same timeframe. (cf. The Reign of Ransomware, TrendLabs 2016 1H Security Roundup). Sad to say, mobile devices are now also being targeted. Android™ mobile ransomware grew 15 times higher by June of 2016 than the level it was at in April of 2015.

So, what can the everyday user do to protect themselves from ransomware? The answer is twofold: get smart—and get protected. Getting smart means understanding how you can get infected by ransomware in the first place and taking steps to prevent it from happening. Getting protected means installing Trend Micro™ Security on your computers and mobile devices to help stop ransomware in its tracks. It also means learning how to use the security software’s features, such as Trend Micro Security’s new Folder Shield, to assist in that process.

How you get infected by ransomware

Ransomware can arrive on your desktop or mobile device from phishing emails, compromised websites, malvertisements, social media, instant messages, or infected or fake apps you unwittingly install. All it takes is for you browse an infected website (which initiates a drive-by download of ransomware), unwittingly click a link in your email that takes you to a bad website or downloads a file, or that you do the same from your mobile instant messaging program. Once installed, the ransomware either locks your screen or encrypts your files, and the cybercriminal demands a fee to release the hostages. And though you may pay the fee by the designated date (never recommended)—which can be as much as $600 to $1200 or more in cash or its bitcoin equivalent—there’s no guarantee you’ll get your stuff back.

How to guard yourself against ransomware infections

You need to get smart, first of all, by taking precautions so you don’t get infected by ransomware in the first place, or can recover your precious devices or data if you do:

  • Avoid opening unverified emails or clicking on their embedded links, which can start the ransomware installation process—and be careful about doing the same on social media.
  • Back up your important files on a regular basis using the 3-2-1 rule: create three backup copies on two different media, with one of the backups in a separate location. Cloud-sync backup services can help to fulfil the last requirement.
  • Regularly update your operating systems and applications, to ensure you’re current, with the latest protections against new vulnerabilities.