Firstly, what is ransomware?
Ransomware is designed, in short, to hold a computer “hostage” and ask for a ransom, typically to obtain financial gain.
During May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware hit computers in almost 100 countries. Whereas Microsoft had released a patch to address the vulnerability exploited by WannaCry, many computers were yet to have the patch installed and remained susceptible to the WannaCry ransomware.
Once the ransomware became active, it encrypted data held on the infected computer preventing user access until a ransom was paid via bitcoins. WannaCry affected hundreds of government and corporate associations, with many losing thousands of important files.
Ransomware is only increasing in volume, so it’s important to take out key learning’s from this attack.
How to protect yourself from ransomware attacks
1- Stay updated and in the know
There’s so many ways a computer can be affected by a ransomware attack or a virus. Knowing these avenues can help you stay protected. A main cause is due to unknowingly opening emails from unknown senders. It’s important to keep on top of your contacts list and e-mails that you’re expecting to receive.
For businesses, staff members may be unaware of the massive implications which may arise. So make sure your staff members are informed of the consequences associated.
2- Install relevant updates as soon as possible
As seen in the WannaCry attack, many operating systems could have been protected if the current Windows update had been installed.
Installing your computer/s with an antivirus system and ensuring firewalls are up to date can save a lot of time and money in recovering your important files.
3- Back up your data
It’s always important to have your files backed up in a separate location in case such events occur. Backing up on an external hard drive or cloud server are easy ways to ensure your files are available and safe.
For businesses, Microsoft recommends keeping company and customer information in a securely remote unconnected storage facility.