Recovering From Ransomware

 

recovering from ransomware

Ransomware is a special type of malware that is actively spreading across the internet today threatening to destroy victim’s documents and other files. Ransomware is just one of many different types of malware which has become very common because it is so profitable for criminals.

Ransomware is commonly spread by emailing victims and tricking them into opening an infected attachment or clicking on a link to the attacker’s website. Once this particular type of malware infects your computer it will start encrypting your files or your entire hard drive. You are then locked out of your entire system or cannot access your important files. The malware will inform you that the only way to unlock your system to recover your files is to pay the cyber criminal a ransom to provide you with a password to decrypt your information. Most often the ransom is paid in some form of currency such as Bitcoin.

Should You Pay the Ransom?

The problem with paying the ransom is that often people pay these criminals when they are infected which motivates criminals to infect others. Though you may not have another option to recover your files, there is no guarantee you will get your files back. During the decryption process, you may be infected with additional malware. Decrypting after the ransom is paid doesn’t confirm the ransomware is removed from your device.  Ransomware can stay dormant on your device and attack again later.

Back Up Your Files

The best way to recover from ransomware without paying the ransom is to recover your files from backups. This way even if your computer is infected with ransomware you have a way of recovering files after rebuilding or cleaning up your computer. Keep in mind that if your backup can be accessed from the infected system, ransomware might delete or encrypt your backup files. Therefore, it’s important to back up files to either a reputable cloud-based service or to store your backups on external drives that are not always connected to your system. Be sure to regularly test that you can recover the files you need should your system become infected with ransomware. Backups are important as they also help you recover when you accidentally delete files or your hard drive gives out.

Further Protective Measures

  • The more current your software, the fewer known vulnerabilities your systems will have and the harder it is for cyber criminals to infect them. Therefore make sure your operating system, applications, and devices are enabled to automatically install updates.
  • Use a standard account that has limited privileges rather than privileged accounts such as administrator or root. This prevents many types of malware from being able to install themselves.
  • Cyber criminals often trick people into installing their malware for them. They might send you an email that looks legitimate and contains an attachment or a link.
  • Do not click on suspicious web browser popup windows
  • Do not open files with file extensions that are likely to be associated with malware (e.g., .bat, .com, .exe, .pif, .vbs)
  • Ensure that you have malware protection installed and do not disable malware security control mechanisms (e.g., antivirus software, content filtering software, reputation software, personal firewall) and make sure that they are continuously updated
  • Do not use administrator-level accounts for regular host operation
  • Do not download or execute applications from untrusted sources

Cyber-Attacks: Don’t Be Fooled By Internet Foes

Trusting other online

One of today’s most effective cyber-attack methods is to take advantage of the human tendency to trust.

Social engineering, a form of psychological manipulation where an attacker cons users into divulging information or doing something they want the user to do, can occur through phone calls, email, text messaging, social media and online chats.

Indicators of social engineering attacks include:

  • A tremendous sense of urgency, or pressure to make a quick decision
  • Someone asking for information they should already know
  • Something too good to be true

To avoid social engineering attacks, never share your passwords and don’t share too much personal information on social media, which can give attackers information to mislead you. If someone asks for something personal, verify their contact information first.

Keep SPAM Out Of Your Inbox

mktweb-502-security-page_3-keep-spam

Email is a huge part of how we communicate, but it can be a source of spam, malware and fraud. Follow these tips to help steer clear of becoming a target when using email:

  • Open attachments only from trusted senders and be on the lookout for phishing emails
  • Be cautious of unrecognized emails or suspicious links
  • Ensure your anti-virus software is running and up-to-date
  • Check that sensitive emails are going to the right person
  • Never give personal info or credentials to untrusted mailing lists or users

Because we know how important your email experience is to you, EarthLink Web Mail comes with powerful built-in protection against viruses and spam. So you can enjoy your email with peace of mind.

Guarding Against Email Viruses with Virus Blocker®

Use EarthLink Web Mail and you’ll enjoy the automatic email virus protection of Virus Blocker. This feature automatically scans all messages and attachments sent to your EarthLink email addresses. Any known viruses, worms, or Trojan horses are automatically removed or quarantined. You’ll be notified when an email message has been cleaned or quarantined.

Virus Blocker updates automatically to help protect you from the latest email viruses. This feature is on for all members. Be safe–keep it on!

To verify that Virus Blocker is on, sign in to Web Mail, click Preferences, then Virus Blocker. If Virus Blocker is not on, click the Turn ON Virus Blocker button.

Keeping Spam Out of Your Email Inbox with spamBlocker

EarthLink’s spamBlocker is automatically set on the medium setting by default and will automatically block known spam. spamBlocker’s highest setting, called Suspect Email Blocking, blocks email from all people, companies, or domains that are not listed in your Web Mail Address Book. With Suspect Email Blocking, senders must ask for permission to email you and be added to your Address Book. An optional spam summary report shows how many messages have been blocked.

To activate the highest setting, sign in to Web Mail, click Preferences, then spamBlocker. Click the button next to Suspect Email Blocking and then Save Changes.

How to Keep Your Email Marketing from Being Labeled as Spam

email marketing tips, advice, and warnings about spamEmail marketing is still a very effective way to generate sales and enhance loyalty.

But here are some statistics (from ConvinceandConvert.com) about email and spam that should worry you as a business owner using email to market your products and services:

  • 21% of email recipients report email as spam even if they know it isn’t
  • 43% of email recipients report email as spam based on the email from line or email address
  • 69% of email recipients report email as spam based on the subject line alone

However, here are some additional stats, from the same source, to keep you motivated as an email marketer:

  • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers
  • 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a marketing email
  • 35% of email recipients opened an email based solely on the subject line

The first three stats should tell you loud and clear to be careful about your email marketing being labeled as spam because people are sometimes quick to hit the spam button. And that would mean at least losing a customer for your business (one that may spend 138% more than other customers) and at worst losing your business reputation. Not to mention the $11,000 per recipient you could be liable for based on the CAN-SPAM Act.

So, what can you do? Here’s some advice to help you steer clear of the spam button:

  1. Make your promotional emails and newsletters Opt In, so that customers have to actively sign up vs. Opt Out if they don’t like them (they may opt out by labeling you a spammer).
  2. On your email sign-up forms, clearly state your newsletter or marketing email name so customers will later recognize it.
  3. Make it clear what frequency you will be emailing customers: if they think they’re getting a once-a-month newsletter and it comes weekly or (worse) daily, they may decide it’s spam.
  4. Make it clear what the content of your emails will be: if customers think they’re signing up for one thing and they get another, they’re more likely to label it spam.
  5. Try to match your online branding in your email (graphics, logos, tone) so your customers feel more at home and trust your emails more.
  6. Use a familiar or easy to understand email address and From line. You could choose an address like like NewsletterName@DomainName.com or Customers@DomainName.com or CustomerOffers@DomainName.com. The From line could be your newsletter name, your business name or your name if it is well known to your customers.
  7.  Make sure your headlines aren’t deceptive (that goes for from lines and email addresses too): If people feel deceived, they’re more likely to lash out and label you a spammer.
  8. Keep your subject lines as short as you can: best practices typically is 5 to 8 words and about 40 characters long because many email programs will cut off the rest.
  9. Make sure the most important words in your subject line are towards the beginning – or at least not at the end where they could be cut off.
  10. Take time writing your subject lines: think about customer needs, hot topics or products, what’s in the news, etc. Think about what you might respond to (make a list of subject lines you’ve received that you liked and clicked on).
  11. Take time writing your emails. Edit them. Proofread them. Ideally get more than one person to look at them to help find potentially embarrassing mistakes. Sloppy emails may be more likely to be identified as spam.
  12. Test your subject lines. If you can, create multiple subject lines and send out a small group of emails with each subject line. Monitor the results for opt-outs, clicks, purchases, etc. Then send the winner out to the whole list.
  13. And finally, be careful with spammy sounding subject lines since most people will mark an email as spam based solely on the subject line. That’s a difficult thing to balance if you are trying to promote offers with your marketing emails. But here are a few best practices:
    • Avoid using ALL CAPS
    • Avoid multiple exclamation points!!!
    • Avoid over-the-top sales phrases
    • Avoid repeating words like FREE FREE FREE
    • Be clear about benefits and drive urgency: promote your latest sale, highlight free shipping or new products, and specify what % OFF customers can get now.
    • According to a 2013 report by Adestra, the words AlertBulletin, and News in subject lines drive more opens and clicks than LearnReportNewsletter or WebinarSale seems to be working better than Free but Free Delivery is very effective.

If you’re an EarthLink Web Hosting customer, don’t forget to try our AnnouncerPro email marketing tools. Read this previous blog post to learn more.