Many variants of ransomware can be prevented using standard Internet security applications. These are widely available today and relatively inexpensive. Think of it as a small price to pay to prevent your treasured data from turning into unusable junk.
Perhaps the biggest mistake many of us make is to assume that only businesses are targeted with ransomware attacks. Unfortunately, both are equally at risk. Before we delve deeper into that though, let’s take a look at some ransomware prevention tools.
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Best Anti-Ransomware Utilities
Most reputable Internet security applications can prevent ransomware. In addition, there are also those specifically designed to combat this threat. These are typically developed and sold by cybersecurity companies as well.
1. ZoneAlarm Anti-Ransomware
ZoneAlarm is a pretty well-recognized name in the anti-malware business. Since inception the company has gone all out in the field of cybersecurity. Anti-Ransomware is just one of their broad range of Internet security applications.
While their protection works in similar ways to all other anti-malware applications, they have additional appeal. This lies in their auto file restoration feature which can help you decrypt any successful attacks.
At the same time, Anti-Ransomware will also safeguard your entire PC to ensure that the device itself will not lock you out. Think of it as multi-level protection and cure, all-in-one. You get data and device security along with a get out of jail free card.
Unlike many other cybersecurity applications, you can buy ZoneAlarm Anti-Ransomware on its own and use it together with your existing antivirus software. If you don’t have any yet, opt for ZoneAlarm Extreme Security instead, their complete solution.
2. Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool
Although Kaspersky is a traditional cybersecurity company, they tend to offer a lot of free tools and helpful resources. If you aren’t an American politician, you can make use of their Anti-Ransomware tool.
This tool makes full use of a number of advanced technologies. Kaspersky always had an inclination for ‘smart’ utilities so it’s the same case here. Behavioural detection, Cloud Analysis, Machine Learning, and more combine for predictive protection capabilities.
It’s available for free not just to individual consumers but businesses as well. Of course, since they’re a business, the freebies are more or less the basics and will bug you to move on the premium version (you can ignore them though).
If you need help removing ransomware that has already infected your machine, they’ve got stuff that will help with that as well.
3. Acronis True Image 2021
Reading this name on a list of anti-ransomware tools may sound bizarre, but it’s true. Acronis is a name that’s more typically associated with data backup, but it seems that ransomware has affected their business model as well (no pun intended).
Aside from helping you schedule backups, restore data, and perform other data-related functions, the 2021 version of their software now stops ransomware. Making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Acronis is now smarter.
Not only can it detect and prevent ransomware attacks but it is also able to restore any files which have already been affected. With capabilities like this, it’s not too late for you to get your copy now.
The only downside is that since the feature only comes as part of a more comprehensive product, the price is quite hefty. At almost $60 for a single device you’ll still have to fork out extra to buy antivirus software as well.
4. Norton 360
Price: from $19.99/yr/device
Norton is a brand that shouldn’t need any introduction. For those living in the US and averse to Kaspersky products – this is the alternative. Being a cybersecurity solutions provider with a longstanding track record, almost their entire product range comes with ransomware protection, even the standard anti-virus option.
Instead, I recommend Norton 360 since it’s a one-stop solution that pretty much ends your need to search for anything else. You get anti-everything, online protection, Cloud backups, firewall protection, a password manager, and even their guarantee.
Depending on which variant of Norton 360 you choose, features will increase. At the highest end of the scale you even get stuff most people don’t even consider like identity restoration, ID verification monitoring, and more.
The biggest problem with Norton lies in the fact that they simply have too wide a range of products and love to confuse people with product name changes. The result is often a “um.. what?” situation for many that even they have come to realize.
5. Trend Micro Internet Security
Price: from $39.95/3 devices/yr
Trend Micro’s inclusion in this list comes about because it’s available by default on so many devices today. Not only does it come pre-packaged with a lot of PCs and laptops, but even some brands and models of other devices like routers.
I guess this in a way shows their capabilities, but there is a little doubt if it’s simply due to strong marketing partnership. Nevertheless, their reputation is pretty good and if it’s already there, why not make use of it.
Trend Micro Internet Security comes complete all-round. It features ransomware protection as part of the deal, and also safeguards your email. This is important since a large number of ransomware does come through mail boxes.
If you don’t already have it you will have to fork out almost $40 for a year’s worth of protection. That does cover three devices though.
What is Ransomware?
Don’t be overly intimidated by the name – ransomware is simply a form of Malware. The name indicates its specific function and for this case, it’s really appropriate. Ransomware infects devices and literally holds it or the data on it, for ransom.
How it Works
Like all other malware, ransomware needs to find a way on to your device before it can work. Methods can vary – for instance, you might get a file delivered via email as an attachment. Once you open it the ransomware will start to work.
This means that it navigates its way around your files and folders, seeking out the data-heavy portions and preparing to encrypt them. While this is happening, you typically won’t notice any difference apart from perhaps unusually heavy system resource usage.
When it’s ready, the ransomware will lock your files and present you with an option – pay or your files will remain locked forever.
Should You Pay to Unlock Your Files?
As with any real-life hostage situations, most experts will always tell you not to negotiate with the hostage takers. There are many reasons for this, such as the probability of simply getting conned out of your cash.
However, there are far deeper implications for ransomware than simply getting conned. The gist of it is that you simply have no idea who you’re dealing with. Some government bodies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believe ransomware may be funding terrorism.
No matter the end result, remember that by paying up, you’re handing over cash to criminals. These funds can then be channeled towards creating even more cybersecurity threats – the threat cycle will never end.
Cybercriminals today are also increasingly organized and intelligent. Like corporations, they analyze statistics too. The numbers don’t lie and if more people pay up, they’ll know the ransomware attacks are working – and will step up the game even further.
Personally, I think paying a ransom is simply adding insult to injury and would rather trash my files than pay to get them unlocked.
Tips to Avoid Falling Victim to Ransomware
Prevention is the best cure as they say, and that goes double when dealing with anything cybersecurity related. By changing the way we behave online, we can do our part in keeping ourselves safe online.
Beware email attachments
Massive amounts of malware filters through as email attachments. Always be cautious of opening files that are delivered this way, even if it comes from someone you apparently know well. Attackers have been known to spoof email addresses.
Always keep security apps updated
The war between cybersecurity companies and cyberattackers is fast and constant. They both update their arsenals at lightning speeds. Make sure your protective apps are always up to date.
Use a Virtual Private Network
VPNs help keep you safer when browsing online since many of them will include not just malware blockers, but also prevent sites from tracking your device (and hence, you).
Do regular backups
This is important, but you need to maintain separate day backups. You never know when an infection occurs, so repeatedly overwriting a single backup may simply be backing up the ransomware along with your data.
Conclusion: Help is Always at Hand
Ransomware has become so pervasive that a device somewhere is attacked literally every few seconds. Because of this, many cybersecurity companies offer free assistance where they can. This typically comes in the form of a few smaller utilities and resources.
For businesses though, you may need some more professional help. Most of the larger cybersecurity organizations have dedicated support staff for this purpose, so that may factor into your choice of solution provider as well.