Think your device choice doesn’t matter? Datto’s Global Ransomware Report found that just 3% of IT service providers encountered ransomware on a Mac, or on mobile or tablet device. Contrast that with 100% of IT service providers that have seen a Windows system infected with ransomware. Want to stay safe? Use devices less often affected.
So the device you use may help protect you from ransomware. For example, compare a Chromebook, Android or iOS device to a traditional Windows or Mac laptop.
The conventional criticism of a Chromebook -- that you can’t install apps -- also protects you from ransomware: you can’t install it. Chrome OS doesn’t support executable files that you find on Windows or MacOS systems. If the only device you use is a Chromebook, you’re unlikely to see ransomware. Plus, you can back up your Chromebook to a flash drive to quickly restore the system.
Note: As Google evolves Chrome OS to allow people to install and run Android apps, the potential for security problems increases. If you’re a G Suite administrator, you may want to choose the Android Apps that people may install, or disable the feature entirely. (Learn how to set device management policies for Android devices from Google.)
An app store offers protection that most laptops lack: a layer of review. A traditional operating system, like Windows or MacOS, allow you install all sorts of applications. Modern mobile app stores -- like the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store -- look for harmful apps and will remove any malicious app discovered. So you’re less likely to see ransomware on an Android or iOS device than on a traditional laptop/desktop. However, if you choose to install apps from sources other than the Google Play Store, you lose the protections that the Play Store offers. So do yourself a favor and disable this option: On your Android device, go to Settings > Applications > and make sure that the option to install apps from “Unknown Sources” is not checked.
In education, files are constantly being shared with multiple people. When you share from Google Drive, provide only as much access as necessary. (In security lingo: apply the principle of least privilege.) For example, don’t allow people to edit when they only need to comment. And don’t let people comment if they only need to view. Be cautious when you share a folder, especially if you use the Google Drive sync client. When you share a folder, your collaborators can add files. Those files could sync to their system. And if these files sync to their system, the files could be encrypted when their system is afflicted with ransomware.
Stay Up To Date, Secure, And Alert
All of the standard “effective practices” apply to guard against ransomware. Keep your operating system, apps, and browser up-to-date. Don’t open attachments or follow links unless they’re clearly from a person you know in a communication you expect. When your browser warns you of a suspicious site, don’t continue. And don’t turn off any security setting to allow an app to install or run.
To learn more about how to rev up your defenses against cybersecurity threats and ensure your G Suite data is safe, download our eBook: Ransomware and G Suite for Education. In this eBook we’ll teach you the essential G Suite settings to enable, tips for students and teachers, the Google Drive permissions you must turn off, and more. Download it today!