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How to utilize Microsoft’s built-in ransomware protection

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 30 years since ransomware first appeared on the PC with the Aids Info Disk/PC Cyborg Trojan.  Since then, cybercriminals have grown fiftyfold more sophisticated with the advancement of technology.  While ransomware became slightly more common in the 2000s, it wasn’t until the early 2010s that the illegal and destructive software became a household name.  With headlines such as “South Florida City Grapples With Ransomware Attack” and “Up to 1,500 businesses affected by ransomware attack, U.S. firm’s CEO says,” it’s difficult to avoid the uncomfortable threat that ransomware poses to an individual, small business, enterprise, or government’s IT security.

Microsoft has taken notice, and it has included the Controlled folder access setting – beginning with Windows 10 – to try and combat the growing threat of ransomware on its flagship operating system.  Often overlooked and heavily underutilized, especially by individual and small business users, the Controlled folder access setting gives end-users the ability to add an important layer of protection to their PC’s local folders and files.

Enabling and configuring this important setting is relatively painless.

Enable the Controlled folder access setting

  1. Remember that if your computer is managed by an organization, your IT team may have a security policy enabled that restricts you from being able to view or make changes to this setting. Always check with your organization’s system administrator before making or attempting to make any security-related changes to your PC.
  2. Search for “Windows Security” from the Start menu, then navigate to Virus & threat protection.
  3. Scroll down and click Manage ransomware protection. It’s important to note here that in order to see this option, you need to enable Microsoft Defender Antivirus’ periodic scanning feature.
  4. Set the Controlled folder access setting to On.

Configure the Controlled folder access setting

Once Controlled folder access is enabled, you will see three additional options.

  • Block history – This setting allows you to view what application was blocked and what folder it was trying to access.
  • Protected folders – This setting allows you to add and remove folders that are protected by Controlled folder access (you cannot remove certain system-created user folders from protection, such as Documents, Pictures, Videos, etc.).
  • Allow an app through Controlled folder access – This setting allows you to add an application to the list of approved applications that are allowed to interact with a protected folder.

Implementing Windows’ built-in ransomware protection is just one step in a multifaceted approach you must take to ensure that your local data is secured against hackers and other cyber criminals.  A robust data backup solution, as well as migrating local data to the cloud, are important steps to take to help prevent critical data loss to your organization, large or small.

Reach out to Beringer today!

Here at Beringer Technology Group, we offer a wide range of solutions designed to keep your business operational, no matter what threats may come your way.  From backup and disaster recovery to cloud-based CRM solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics, Beringer is at the forefront of helping organizations navigate the daily threat that cybercrime poses.

Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution, also provides expert Managed IT ServicesBackup and Disaster RecoveryCloud Based Computing, Email Security Implementation and TrainingUnified Communication Solutions, and Cybersecurity Risk Assessment.