Microsoft Adds Ransomware Protections to OneDrive and Outlook

Date Entry
April 5, 2018

Ransomware is a menace to data security - locking up a user's files and throwing away the key until a ransom is paid - and it's now showing up in the cloud.  Microsoft is working to remedy this with new protections for business and personal OneDrive accounts, including the ability to revert back to previous images of a user's account, up to a month in the past.  This is a measure that helps users easily recover from compromises without the need of professionals, however it does require users to act before that month's time is up.  Helpfully, Microsoft is also installing monitoring utilities that notify users when a suspected infection has occurred.

The protections have already been enabled for OneDrive, and will see its updates in the next few weeks.  Users that subscribed to Office 365 also will see additional protections for shared and read files distributed via the platform, such as being able to password protect their access and preventing links to files from being forwarded.

"With the growing presence and sophistication of online threats like viruses, ransomware, and phishing scams, it’s increasingly important to have the right protection and tools to help protect your devices, personal information, and files from being compromised,” Kirk Koenigsbauer, the corporate vice president for Office, wrote in a blog post.

Given ransomware's method of infecting every system it can reach on a network and cloud accounts with open connections, Microsoft recommends backing up all of your important files to OneDrive now, before there's a problem.  Otherwise, users will lose them when their computer ultimately has to be wiped to clean up the ransomware.  Even if a ransomware attack does reach your OneDrive account, you have the option to roll it back.

Microsoft has also announced plans to roll out proactive URL-checking software for Office products later this year - these utilities will scan documents for suspicious links and notify users to remove them.

This article was based on an April 5, 2018 IT News article by March Hachman.

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