TMCnet Feature
May 21, 2019

Ransomware Attacks on the Rise Right Now: Are You Properly Protected?

There has been a spate of ransomware attacks around the world in recent weeks. For example, news came out about ransomware hitting another U.S. airport, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Now, May is proving to also be a busy one for hackers, with news breaking of a spike in ransomware attacks from a new strain called MegaCortex.

All of these disturbing updates indicate that we must all be hyper-vigilant about our cybersecurity. Hackers are continually finding new and more sophisticated ways to break into systems, and no one is safe. Make sure you have all the following bases covered so you’re protected.

Use Firewalls

Take advantage of the firewalls likely already installed on your computers. Most manufacturers place standard firewalls on their devices these days, though they don’t automatically activate them, so you’ll need to check setting information to be sure.

Firewalls are useful because they act as another layer of protection. This is particularly the case when you’re using the internet. Firewalls work to filter out any potential threats from other, credible, information transferred online.

Install Security Software

Security software is also a must. With hackers coming up with so many different techniques to break into networks and steal data or crash systems, you need comprehensive security software designed to protect users from as many different threats as possible. Select products that will cover you for spam, malware, viruses, spyware, spam, and ransomware.

Ransomware is a huge issue right now and involves cybercriminals breaking into devices and locking owners out. Hackers threaten to delete information, make sensitive data public, or crash systems unless they receive a ransom. This kind of problem costs individuals and organizations millions of dollars per year and isn’t abating, so look for a security software option that includes ransomware removal, too.

Keep Computer Software Updated

To protect against hacker attacks, it’s also necessary to keep computer software up-to-date. Do this for the firewalls and security software mentioned above, but also things like operating systems, browsers, plugins, apps, games, and more.

Software manufacturers release new versions of their wares not only when they have new features available, but also when they’ve found and plugged security gaps. As such, for optimal safety, run the latest versions of tech on every device you use. Helpfully, most programs have a feature that allows them to update automatically, or to at least alert users to the need for an update, so you don’t have to remember to check for new versions.

Make Smart Choices

There are also numerous smart choices you must make to stay safe from hackers. For example, never login to accounts of any type when you’re using public Wi-Fi. You never know who might be using the network at the same time and able to spy on what you’re doing.

In addition, it’s best to install hard-to-crack passwords on your devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so that if anyone steals a gadget or you accidentally lose one, they can’t just gain easy access to your data. The passwords you use must be updated every few months, too.

Be careful about the information you post on social media sites and on your own website or blog, too. Hackers patrol sites, particularly social media ones, these days, looking for publicly-posted details they can use to guess people’s logins. You must be careful about which emails and attachments you open, too, as well as the links you click. Fraudulent communications often contain malware, after all.

Back Up Data

In case you do still get affected by a ransomware attack, have all your data backed up daily to a secure offsite location. Back up to the cloud or via another remote storage system. Make sure what you use isn’t kept onsite, connected to computers and other systems you use every day. This will stop hackers from corrupting your backups, too.

The idea of having data available elsewhere is that if a hacker locks you out of your computers or deletes information on you, you won’t have to pay a ransom. You will have another copy available to replace the original data with.

Ransomware is indeed a problem to understand and be wary of, but if you take action to protect yourself today, you’ll dramatically lower the chances of being stung by this kind of attack.

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