Ransomware received a lot of press in 2017. Names like WannaCry, Petya, NotPetya and GoldenEye dominated the news last year. There were many big name victims including Britain’s National Health Service which reportedly crippled emergency rooms across the UK for several days.
So what is Ransomware? It is a type of malicious computer software that encrypts your personal files effectively holding them “hostage” until you pay a ransom to get them released. You can become infected in a number of ways but most commonly it arrives attached to a malicious email. You simply click on the attachment to see what it is and bang you are infected.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Well first of all, use good common sense. Trust your instincts. If you receive any email with an attachment especially one that you hadn’t expected then you need to be very suspicious and very cautious about opening it. Even if it is from someone you know or recognize. If you have any doubts at all, be sure to confirm with the sender that they did indeed send you something. Leading up to the Christmas holidays, I personally received a number of bogus emails claiming to be from UPS, Canada Post and Purolator with an attachment that purported to be details of a shipment heading my way. Thankfully I was able to quickly see obvious signs that the emails were fakes and I simply deleted them.
So what else can you do to protect yourself? Well for those of you running Windows 10 on your computers, Microsoft has just announced that there is some extra Ransomware protection available exclusively to you. Now don’t you feel special? If you are currently running the latest version of Windows 10 known as the “Fall Creators Update” (Version 1709) and utilizing Microsoft’s built in antivirus protection Windows Defender then you have the option of activating their new “Controlled Folder Access” feature which will protect your personal files and pictures from any unauthorized access (like someone trying to encrypt your files).
Unfortunately, this very handy feature is turned off by default so you have to do a bit of work to turn it on. Here are the basic steps:
(1) Click the Windows Start button on the bottom left side of the screen
(2) Click on the “gear” icon to get into the “Settings” area
(3) Click on “Update and Security”
(4) On the left side, click “Windows Defender”
(5) On the right side, click “Open Windows Defender Security Center”
(6) Click “Virus and Threat Protection”
(7) Click “Virus and Threat Protection Settings”
(8) Scroll down and turn on “Controlled folder access” & then acknowledge the confirmation
Hey I told you it was a bit of work … but well worth it.
If you have questions about the Controlled Folder Access feature or any other technical topic, please feel free to contact me, Wayne Matthews at: wmatthews@trenthillstechnical.ca