Ransomware—you’ve likely heard the term before. It refers to a type of malware that locks down files, preventing users from accessing critical or personal information unless a ransom is paid. Some cyberthieves go a step further and claim your device is infected with a virus and charge a fee to “fix” it, while others claim to be governmental organizations and “fine” users for offenses they did not commit. Regardless of the scenario, the aim is the same—to separate you from your money.
A recent study estimated ransomware’s toll on global business to be $8 billion per year—and predicted that by year-end 2019, ransomware will affect a business every 14 seconds. The estimated 2019 losses for the healthcare industry alone are even higher at $25 billion. That’s because many find it easier to pay the ransom. So what can you do to protect yourself and your files from attack? Fortunately there are some simple steps you can take to make it harder for cyberthieves to ransom your data.
Don’t Open Suspicious Links or Attachments
Many ransomware attacks begin when a user innocently opens a link or attachment accompanying an email. Once you click the link or download attachment, you’ve opened yourself to attack. The ransomware infects your system and locks down critical files. The cyber thief then contacts you and offers to unlock the files if you pay a ransom. The best way to avoid falling victim to this sort of attack is to avoid opening links or files attached to emails. If you don’t recognize the sender, or have any reason to doubt the authenticity of an email—do NOT open links or attachments.
Beware of False Credentials
Some cybercriminals will attempt to infect your computer with malware by misrepresenting themselves as a business or governmental organization. Regard any email requesting your password, username, social security number, or any sensitive account information with extreme scrutiny. Retailers and government institutions do NOT typically request this information, especially if it is something they should already have on file.
Keep Your OS and Antivirus Software Current
We’re all familiar with software updates that tempt us to click “remind me later.” But don’t put off downloading those updates for long—failure to maintain your system’s anti-malware protocols can leave you open to attack. Remember that cybercriminals are always searching for new ways to access and ransom your data, so be sure your system is as current as it can be. A patch now can save you a world of heartache later.
Educate Other Users
How many users are on your network? Are they each as savvy about ransomware as you are? By training your employees and family members to spot the signs of a ransomware attack before it happens, you can close possible entry points to cyberthieves and reduce your chances of becoming their next victim.
There’s no better way to secure your sensitive data than to maintain an updated backup on a drive not connected to your computer. Today, cloud storage is offering users a quick and easy way to store vital files remotely, in the cloud. A seasoned IT consultant can guide you through the process of migrating your data to the cloud, and can assist in developing an emergency data recovery plan in the event your hard drive or files are compromised.
Explore the Advantage of Layered Security
By layering your cybersecurity protections, you can increase the chances of blocking a ransomware attack before your files are compromised. Bolstering your firewall, anti-exploit, anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-ransomware protections will confound all but the most sophisticated cybercriminals. Active programs that notify you of attempted breaches can also help you respond quickly to any cyberthreat.
Get a Cybersecurity Diagnostic
An experienced IT and cybersecurity consultant can evaluate your network and devices for potential vulnerabilities to a ransomware attack. They can examine your security protocols, conduct penetration testing, and recommend the appropriate fixes to close cyberthieves’ potential entry points.
At Waterdog Computer Works, we understand how important it is to keep your sensitive information secure. We’ll work with you to identify and eliminate potential vulnerabilities in your system, bolster your defenses, facilitate cloud migration, and assist in developing a data recovery plan. Don’t leave your personal or corporate data open to attack. Contact Waterdog Computer Works today!
Located in Wayne, Pa, Waterdog Computer Works is a complete IT solutions and cybersecurity provider serving businesses throughout Philadelphia’s western Main Line. Focused and responsive, Waterdog Computer Works offers a two-hour emergency response time guarantee, no-risk contracts and a team of technicians with over 75 years of combined experience. Call us at 484.580.8568 to speak to a member of our team.