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There’s no such thing as a 100% safe network or device. This is something cybersecurity specialists learn on day one of their studies. And yet, this doesn’t mean we should give up on trying to protect sensitive data and systems.
We need to keep in mind that cyberattacks are not perfect either, and they work by identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in the systems and devices we use for business or personal activities. Ransomware, for instance, is often spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments or via drive-by downloading (although there are other, more effective methods).
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The reason why so many people fear ransomware is the way this ill-intended piece of software operates. It restricts users’ access to any data on an infected device or network until a ransom is paid (usually in cryptocurrency), but there are no guarantees you’ll have access even after paying.
Therefore, the best method of fighting such a sneaky attack is prevention. And this is why users need to understand just how vulnerable their own operating systems are and which measures work best for them.
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Different OSs’ Vulnerability to Ransomware Attack
Windows is well-known for having built-in protection systems that get better with each version. On the other hand, Linux and macOS systems are not as eager to push various security tools onto their users. The general belief is that these two systems are allegedly safer than Microsoft’s, so they don’t need as much protection.
The truth is that Linux and macOS (the desktop versions) are not as popular as Windows. Linux users are usually enthusiasts who want to try something edgy, while Apple users are part of a very special club. As such, up until recently, they enjoyed a phenomenon called “security through obscurity.” However, things are about to change as more users opt for these two versions of OS.
Therefore, it’s important to understand how ransomware affects Windows and Linux users and also have a look at the vulnerabilities that expose macOS devices. Plus, we also need to consider mobile OS, such as Android and iOS, which are also under threat.
Methods of Protection
Ransomware attacks can be rendered useless by a well-kept daily backup system. Since this type of attack only encrypts the data on your device, you can simply wipe everything down and reinstall using the latest backup version. It will still be an inconvenience since you’ll lose a few hours with this activity (depending on the size of the infection), but that will be it.
However, not everyone is diligent about their daily backups. Plus, there are other threats that can’t be solved as easily. Therefore, businesses and individual users must use a cocktail of security methods that often include the following:
- Methods and procedures that help prevent phishing attacks;
- Networks that are isolated and secured for core business operations and extremely sensitive data;
- A system of firewalls and access control where only communication and devices that are allowed to access the network can function;
- Multiple backups, where some of the copies are stored in unconnected, secured locations;
- Multifactor Authentication (MFA) for all devices. According to Microsoft specialists, this MFA can prevent 99.9% of attacks from happening;
- Make sure you’re always using the latest version of the software, whether we’re talking about OS, apps, software tools, and so on.
The truth is we can never let our guard down when it comes to cyber-attacks. If your organization or device is targeted, even the smallest mistake can have huge implications. However, when you implement a layered security approach, even if someone manages to pierce the outer layer, they’ll have a tough time reaching the core without getting noticed. And this is when you can take measures and limit their destructive reach.