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Ransomware is one of the most widespread and damaging threats that internet users face.

Since the infamous CryptoLocker first appeared in 2013, we’ve seen a new era of file-encrypting ransomware variants delivered through spam messages and Exploit Kits, extorting money from home users and businesses alike.

Here our System Development Advisor, Chris Thomas, provides the nine best security practices to apply now.

1. Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-line and off-site

There are dozens of ways other than ransomware that files can suddenly vanish, such as 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.

2. Enable file extensions

The default Windows setting is to have file extensions disabled, meaning you have to 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

Opening a JavaScript file in Notepad blocks it from running any malicious scripts and allows you to examine the file contents.

4. Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email

Microsoft deliberately turned off auto-execution of macros by default many years ago as a security measure. A lot of infections rely on persuading you to turn macros back on, so don’t do it!

5. Be cautious about unsolicited attachments

The crooks 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.

6. Don’t give yourself more login power than you need

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

7. Consider installing the Microsoft Office viewers

These viewer applications let you see what documents look like without opening them in Word or Excel. In particular, the viewer software doesn’t support macros, so you can’t enable them by mistake!

8. Patch early, patch often

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. The sooner you patch, the fewer holes there are to be exploited.

9. 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.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of IT security with any of our experts then call us on 0330 400 5465 or alternatively e-mail sales@csgrp.co.uk

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