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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How Can I Protect Myself From Ransomware?

Updated: May 20, 2021

I’m sure you have read about the massive virus attack that has infected over 200,000 computers in at least 150 countries over the past few days. If not, let me update you. This vicious attack occurred Friday and came in the form of ransomware code-named “WannaCry” that targeted Windows computers and infected everything from government computers, FedEx offices in the US, and hospitals in the U.K. Ransomware is one of the worst types of viruses because it encrypts or locks files on a computer or a network of computers. making it impossible for the user to gain access to them. The owner of the computer or device will get a ransom note demanding money to gain access to the files. In most cases, paying the ransom will not get you access to your files. Ransomware attacks will increase in the months to come, but there are a few simple ways to avoid being the next ransomware victim:

1. Update your tech. It doesn’t matter what type of device you use, make sure it’s up to date. Many of you think you’re immune from these types of attacks because you’re not using a Windows device. Even though this attack was designed to infect Windows computers, it does not mean you’re immune. Verify automatic updates is enabled on your device. Also, make sure you’re running the latest Operating System for your device. Cybercriminals will target older technology because they know the manufacturer no longer provides security updates for these devices.

2. Start using an automatic cloud backup service, today! The most dangerous aspect of Ransomware is its ability to infect computers and devices connected to a network. You make backup your information to an external hard drive, or to a cloud service like DropBox or OneDrive, but guess what? Ransomware can infect those files as well … yes, it can get to your cloud data. How does a cloud backup service help you? Most cloud services like Carbonite keep MULTIPLE copies of your files across many services across the globe. If your backup gets infected with Ransomware, your cloud backup provider can simply restore your files BEFORE the infection happened.

3. Use common sense when it comes to email. Hackers aren’t concerned about getting into your computers or network anymore. They get your information by phishing scams that are socially engineered to make you react to what is being said in an email. These emails come in the form of mail from your friends or from companies you have grown to trust. Always verify the email by looking at the email address. If you get an odd email from a friend, pick up the phone and ask if they meant to send you the letter in question. If you aren’t sure, just simply delete the email. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

4. Use Anti-Virus software on your devices. Anti-Virus software isn’t full proof and for the most part, one isn’t better than the other. It’s something you need to have on your device (meaning Windows, Macintosh, Smartphone or Tablet). The anti-virus that is actively scanning your device decreases the chances you will fall victim to a ransomware scam.

So what happens if you do get infected with ransomware? Unplug your desktop computer and take the battery out of your laptop. Disconnect your computer from your wired or wireless network and unplug it from the wall. Ransomware users can remotely power up computers. Give us a call here at Integral. We may not be able to retrieve those lost files, but we can make sure you don’t fall victim to a ransomware scam.

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