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
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.
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
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.