Ransomware has been the trending topic for awhile now, particularly after the malware WannaCry infected thousands of computers all over the world. Of course, it wasn’t just personal computers it infected, but commercial systems at Fedex and even at the U.K.’s National Health Service. It was (and the after affects still are) devastating, and that brings up the question: how do you protect yourself against ransomware?
Follow along below and we’ll show you how you can try to keep yourself protected against attacks like these.
It’s time to upgrade
Many are still running Windows XP, particularly in the health care industry, government offices and even in some corporate offices. There’s still a lot of personal computers that are using Windows XP, too. But, it’s time to cut ties with Windows XP — Microsoft ended support with on April 8, 2014. As such, the Redmond-based company is no longer offering further security updates or technical support for the operating system. This leaves Windows XP open to malicious attacks.
With that in mind, you should always be running Microsoft’s latest software. In this case, that would be Windows 10 on the Spring Creators Update build. This way, you’re getting all of the latest security updates so that your system is kept secure.
As even Microsoft has said, “Without Microsoft support, you will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal your personal information.”
Upgrading can be a little more difficult for hospitals and other health care offices, but after constant data breaches, and then something like WannaCry, their should be a revitalized effort to start upgrading these systems. Upgrading is one of the major ways people and companies are going to protect themselves against ransomware and similar malicious attacks. You should also keep all of your applications up to date, too. A security breach can happen just as easily through an application with a bad security hole.
Keep an eye on email attachments
One popular way that ransomware and other malicious software is transferred to other computers is through email attachments. With that said, don’t open any suspicious email attachments. Likewise, you shouldn’t download any software or applications that you can’t verify — always read reviews first, you can usually protect yourself by reading others’ experiences.
Use an antivirus program
If you don’t use an antivirus program, it’s time to start using one. Modern antivirus programs can not only help you remove suspicious software or malware off of your system, but can usually help you detect suspicious sites or files in advance. In fact, with a lot of antivirus software, you can right-click on a file and have it scan for viruses.
Backups, backups, backups
In case an attack does happen, make sure all of your data is backed up to an offsite location. If you’re on a personal computer, you could even make sure it’s backed up to an external hard drive that isn’t connected to the Internet. That way, you aren’t losing all of your files to a virus demanding ransom to get them back.
Honestly, offline backup solutions are the safest place to keep your data. You can keep them in the Cloud, which is very secure, but still susceptible to breaches and hacking because it’s connected to the Internet. It’s very unlikely that a Cloud solution like Google Drive or Dropbox could get hacked, but it’s always a possibility. If you don’t like that possibility, then you may want to look at offline solutions for you or your business.
If you own a business and have access to personnel specializing in Information Security, you might want to direct them to do Penetration Testing. By doing that, they’ll be able to spot any vulnerabilities within the network, a computer system or Web application that could be exploited. And hopefully, with that knowledge, the exploit can be fixed and/or preemptive measures can be taken to prevent any attacks. Or, at least, reduce the damage that an attack could do to your infrastructure.
If you don’t use Ethernet instead of a Wi-Fi connection, you’ll also want to make sure you’re employing good router security tactics, too. If you run a business, you’ll want to make sure you’re running WPA2 Enterprise for maximum wireless security on your network. If you just run a personal network, use WPA2 Personal — it’s a whole lot better than WEP or WPA. Additionally, be sure to use good passwords. You don’t want your wireless password being just “password.” Make sure it’s a string of different upper-case and lower-case characters as well as a mixture of numbers, too.
Knowledge is power
When it comes down to it, the best way to prevent malicious attacks is through knowledge. Again, if you own a business, teach employees safe Internet tactics, such as not opening suspicious email attachments, not downloading questionable programs, staying on “safe” websites and so on.
Even if it’s just yourself with a personal PC, it’s a good practice to read up on these habits, too. Malicious attacks are a very real threat in today’s Information world, and you really don’t want to deal with all of the heartache that comes with stolen personal information. Staying informed is, without a doubt, your best tool to avoid not just ransomware attacks like WannaCry, but any malicious attack.
By following the steps above, you should be able to keep yourself pretty safe and secure from any malicious attacks on the Internet. However, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be protected against everything. Hackers are always finding new security holes to take advantage of. And while many of these security holes are patched up before anything can happen, hackers can still sometimes get through or find a way to plant malware on a computer.
But, by keeping antivirus on your computer and staying on top of updates for your operating system and programs, you should be able to keep yourself protected against most everything. Not only that, but with having that antivirus on your computer, you’ll be able to terminate or quarantine any infection that might get through. And, if you run into a worst case scenario where you need to reinstall your system, having those backups on hand will ensure you never lose any important files or work.
What are some ways that you keep yourself protected when browsing the Internet? Let us know in the comments section below!