Ransomware is a growing concern. While the most prolific attacks to date have targeted large businesses and corporations, consumers and everyday computer users are being affected in increasing numbers. Some of these ransomware infections are the result of sophisticated and concentrated attacks, but others are the result of dumb luck. In either case, many of them could be avoided by following some simple and helpful tips.
The first step in fighting ransomware comes in preventing it from entering your system in the first place. Some tips for preventing ransomware include:
• Update your computer: Always make sure your operating system has the latest updates installed. It's a good idea to make sure all of your software is updated regularly, especially your antivirus software.
• Avoid suspicious links: Avoid clicking on suspicious links while browsing the internet. Links sent by friends and family can also contain links to ransomware, so take caution when clicking on these, too.
• Ignore email attachments: Unless you've specifically asked for someone to send you an attachment via email, it's always best to ignore any and all attachments.
Now that we've taken some measures to prevent ransomware from infecting our computers in the first place, it's time to look at some ways we can protect our systems even further. This includes:
• Backup important files regularly: If you have any important files on your computer, including those for business or personal use, make sure to back these up on a regular basis.
• Keep an off-site backup: Whenever possible, try to maintain multiple copies of your most important files – including at least one off-site backup. This is best achieved using cloud storage, but you can also use a physical device that is stored off-site, too.
Despite your best efforts, the most advanced ransomware might still be able to gain access to your system. If this is the case, a quick and thorough response is advised.
• Isolate the file: If you know what files have been infected, you might be able to isolate these to minimize their effect. For systems that are connected to a network, it's best to disconnect as soon as possible.
• Avoid using other software: Once you've confirmed a ransomware infection, it's critical that you stop using any and all software on your machine. Not only will this increase the chance that these files will also become infected, but you also run the risk of exposing even more personal information to the hackers on the other end.
• Contact law enforcement: Since it is a crime to manufacture or deliver ransomware, it's a good idea to report any infections to your local FBI or Secret Service agency. If you work for a business or corporation, consult your IT helpdesk team as soon as possible.
• Change your passwords: If your computer is already infected, there's a good chance that the hackers now have your login credentials. To mitigate any further issues, change your passwords as soon as possible. This might be a tedious process, depending on how many accounts you have, but it's a critical stop that could prevent the problem from spreading even further.
Tips to Protect Against Ransomware
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