OneDrive and Out­look get ran­somware cover

The OneDrive pro­tec­tion is avail­able now, while Mi­crosoft will beef up Out­look.com over the com­ing weeks, writes

Tech Advisor - - Contents - MARK HACHMAN

If your PC is in­fected with ran­somware, it will spread from file to file, en­crypt­ing them un­til you pay the bad guys for the dig­i­tal key. But ran­somware can also spread to your files stored in the cloud, and that’s what Mi­crosoft’s new OneDrive pro­tec­tions are de­signed to ad­dress.

The firm has an­nounced the abil­ity to ‘roll back’ the files stored in OneDrive to ver­sions stored up to a month ago, to help you re­turn to a point be­fore you were in­fected by mal­ware. The com­pany also said it will use its au­to­mated threat-de­tec­tion sys­tems to fig­ure out when the ran­somware be­gan in­fect­ing those files and alert you via your phone that an in­fec­tion has taken place.

Mi­crosoft an­nounced ad­di­tional pro­tec­tions for shar­ing and read­ing files stored on OneDrive and emailed via Out­look.com, the web-based ver­sion of Out­look, in­clud­ing en­crypted email. The catch? You’ll have to sub­scribe to Of­fice 365, Mi­crosoft’s sub­scrip­tion ser­vice that also in­cludes ac­cess to Pow­erPoint, Ex­cel, Word, and the other Of­fice apps. The Out­look pro­tec­tions aren’t yet avail­able to the Of­fice 365 ver­sion of Out­look.

“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.

Ap­peal­ing solution

Though smart surf­ing and other good In­ter­net prac­tices are your first de­fence against mal­ware, in­clud­ing ran­somware, it does hap­pen. And if ran­somware in­fects your PC, it tries to in­fect other com­put­ers on your net­work, in­clud­ing per­sis­tent con­nec­tions to cloud stor­age. Eras­ing all your files and re­fresh­ing your PC

would be an ap­peal­ing solution – if it didn’t mean los­ing all of your files. Mi­crosoft is pitch­ing OneDrive as a solution: upload all your crit­i­cal files be­fore your PC is in­fected. Even if the OneDrive stash be­comes in­fected, you’ll be able to ac­cess an older, un­in­fected ver­sion.

Cloud pro­tec­tions in place

What’s new is that Mi­crosoft has adapted its Files Re­store capability – pre­vi­ously only for OneDrive for Busi­ness – and brought it into Of­fice 365 sub­scrip­tions for home users. Not only will Mi­crosoft de­tect an at­tack, but you’ll be no­ti­fied by any chan­nels that the firm would nor­mally use to send you mes­sages: email, a popup no­ti­fi­ca­tion, and more. Then, you’ll be able to en­ter OneDrive and essen­tially ‘roll back’ to an ear­lier

day. You’ll want to pick a day be­fore Mi­crosoft alerted you about the at­tack, nat­u­rally.

Mi­crosoft has also taken se­cu­rity within Out­look a step fur­ther: Now you can pass­word-pro­tect links to fold­ers or files. That’s handy as pre­vi­ously, there was re­ally no real way to pro­tect links to files or fold­ers from be­ing shared to any­one. Both the ran­somware de­tec­tion and link pro­tec­tions are avail­able now, it said.

If you are con­cerned about those links be­ing for­warded, Mi­crosoft has be­gun to ad­dress that, too. In Out­look.com, you now have the op­tion of en­crypt­ing a file or pre­vent­ing it from be­ing for­warded, or both si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

It’s not clear how well Mi­crosoft has se­cured files in Out­look ver­sus, say, PGP, but the firm said you’ll be able to en­crypt a file sent via Out­look.com, then read it within Out­look for iOS/An­droid or the Win­dows Mail app. (Mi­crosoft doesn’t main­tain the en­cryp­tion if you re­spond to that email, though, or au­thor an­other one from those other apps.) If you turn on the pre­vent­for­ward­ing op­tion, Mi­crosoft will also en­crypt the email, as well as any Of­fice doc­u­ments you’ve at­tached.

Pass­word-pro­tected shar­ing links, email en­cryp­tion, and for­ward­ing preven­tion will start rolling out in the com­ing weeks, Mi­crosoft said.

It added that, later this year, the com­pany will au­to­mat­i­cally be­gin check­ing links within Word, Ex­cel, or Pow­erPoint. If that link links to a sus­pi­cious site, you’ll be flagged. Out­look.com al­ready sniffs your links for po­ten­tial mal­ware.

Files Re­store al­lows you to ‘roll back’ the files stored in OneDrive to ver­sions stored up to a month ago

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