7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

I’m sure you’ve all seen the news over the weekend, of FedEx, Telefonica, NHS and more being infected with ransomware.  Please see a quick guide below to explain the situation and find out what you can do to protect yourself.

What is Ransomware?

It’s like someone kidnapping your data.  A malicious program is installed on your computer, which then encrypts your data and/or system files, so you can’t use them.  You then receive a message demanding payment for the encryption key, which lets you unlock your files.  The amount required may go up after a certain amount of time, or you may be threatened with the destruction of the key if you don’t pay, meaning that your files would be permanently locked.

What can I do to protect myself?

  1. Back up your data regularly.  We can’t stress the importance of this enough.  Back it up now, while you can still access it. It’s the best defence against any kind of IT disaster.  Use a USB stick, portable hard drive, network attached storage server – there are many ways to do this, but it’s remembering to do it that’s important.
  2. It’s so important, we’ll repeat ourselves – back up your data, and do it often!!
  3. Make sure that you have security software and it’s up to date. Anti-virus software is good, all-round security software (that includes a firewall and other vulnerability protection) is better. If you have a free one, we’d recommend upgrading to a paid one if you’re a business, or have a lot of important information on your PC. Check that the software is updating – your protection is only as good as your updated software – a bit like getting regular vaccinations.
  4. Apply security patches – for most of you, this will be Windows updates or Mac OS updates.  Yes, they can be a pain, but they fix holes in the operating system that these ransomware programs come in through.  You wouldn’t go out and leave the front door of your business wide open at night – why do the same with your computer?
  5. Use caution on the internet and when using e-mail.  If it looks a bit suspicious, delete it – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!  Don’t open unexpected attachments or strange e-mails – even if they appear to come from a person or company you know, as this information can be faked.  You can always contact the sender by writing a new e-mail or calling, to see if it’s genuine before opening it.  There are some very convincing scam e-mails claiming to come from your bank, eBay, Amazon etc, so please be careful.
  6. Create a system restore or system image of your PC – this won’t protect your data, but gives you a “safe” point to take your PC back to in case something bad happens – and saves you having to reinstall all your programs.
  7. And did we mention backing up your data?!

Don’t Panic!

If you do get infected by ransomware – don’t do anything but call us immediately and we can help.  01494 372494 for Bucks/South East clients or 01531 888256 for Newent/South West clients.

If you have any questions about how to protect yourself, security software, or anything else, please get in touch.