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Chris Bell

3 Tips to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

You probably know about ransomware attacking large and small businesses alike, with hackers freezing access to data and demanding ransoms, costing millions of pounds in the UK alone. It is important to be aware that individuals are also at risk for cyber-attacks. Size matters not to criminal hackers, and you should be taking the same precautions as businesses to protect your data and online identity. Precautions needed to secure identity and important data don’t have to be expensive, but they should be effective. Let’s discuss three tips you can take today to protect yourself from being a victim of a ransomware attack.

Install and Use Anti-Virus Software

This recommendation sounds simple enough, but the number of people that “wing it” would surprise you. Many people let their anti-virus software protection lapse or worse, use none at all. If you don’t use updated software, you are subject to the risk of a ransomware attack. Configure your software to update automatically and continuously run a firewall. If you use data, save files, or in any other way rely on your tech device to communicate, shop, or do business, anti-virus software is essential.

Get Knowledgeable

Image via Flickr by Shanelevi

Email, especially, can leave you open to a ransomware attack. Your email program should scan both incoming and outgoing messages. Avoid opening emails from sources you are not familiar with and always scan attachments. Configure your email client to filter spam emails. Be very cautious of clicking any links that could run malicious executable files.  Phishing and spoofing scams abound and can mimic messages and web sites of legitimate businesses or other entities. Watch where you go online and stick to safe site recommendations. Ransomware can be only one click away on a fake, scam site.

Don’t fall for get-rich-quick scams, offers, or immediate response sales that seem too good to be true. They’re almost always fake and are favorite avenues of attack by hackers. Fake employment scams can fool some victims. If you want to explore an opportunity, practice due diligence with thorough research and confirmation.

If you receive threatening email notices, report it to law enforcement and seek professional guidance. It may be tempting to respond to hackers, but if you do, you are increasing your online visibility as a target, drawing attention to the fact that you may be vulnerable.

Most browsers offer content blocking and the option to open content in private windows, which you may want to utilize. Check your settings. The more anonymity you have on the web, the better off you are with respect to potential hackers.

Backup Your Data Often

Use cloud services to backup your data. Redundancy is good, and you should also consider an external hard drive for storage of essential files, programs, and other information. Online data storage and backups are available for free from several reliable sources, such as Dropbox basic.

Your online safety is important, and protecting yourself is not complicated or expensive. Follow these three simple tips to reduce your online vulnerability.