Protect yourself and your business from ransomware

December 17, 2019

Few things can compromise a network as quickly and effectively as ransomware, a type of malware that can hold data hostage until a ransom is paid to restore access. In a survey of 41 IT professionals, the storage recovery firm StorageCraft® Technology Corporation found that ransomware is the foremost concern for the men and women who protect companies’ computer networks.
The threat posed by ransomware is significant. A 2017 incident known as the WannaCry ransomware attack targeted thousands of computers across the globe, infecting corporate networks along the way. In spring of 2019, the computer system of the Baltimore City government was infected with ransomware that adversely affected the city for more than a month.
The cyber safety firm NortonLifeLock Inc. notes that ransomware attacks remain popular among cyber criminals. However, individuals and businesses are not helpless against ransomware attacks. In fact, there are many steps individuals and businesses can take to make themselves less vulnerable to ransomware attacks.
• Install security software on your computer(s) and update it regularly. NortonLifeLock notes that security software can be installed on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets to protect users against hidden threats. Such software can recognize ransomware, but it needs to be updated routinely, as variations of ransomware appear regularly.
• Update operating systems to stay safe. Operating system updates do not just keep computers running smoothly by making them more compatible with the latest versions of widely used apps. Such system updates also tend to address security vulnerabilities from previous operating systems. Those vulnerabilities can make it easier for cyber criminals to attack computers with ransomware, so addressing them promptly can be a great line of defense.
• Be wary of email attachments. Ransomware often infects computers through email attachments. Individuals should never open attachments from unfamiliar senders. Businesses should periodically remind employees of this security measure, as all it takes to potentially compromise an entire network is for one person to open such an attachment.
• Store personal files on an external hard drive. One of the reasons ransomware is so effective is that people don’t want to lose access to personal files, such as family photos. By backing up personal files on an external hard drive, individuals can gain leverage against cyber criminals who are targeting them with ransomware. NortonLifeLock advises users to store backup data offline so it is not accessible to attackers.
• Use cloud services. According to NortonLifeLock, many cloud services retain previous versions of files, which also can provide users with a little bit of leverage against ransomware attacks.
Ransomware is a popular tool of cyber criminals. But computer users can employ various strategies to protect their data from ransomware attacks.

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