At this point, most of us know that data security breaches are going to happen. Headlines about hackers causing chaos and accessing people’s identifying information appear regularly. The WannaCrypt Ransomware attack is a little different. Rather than sneaking into systems to steal data, the team behind WannaCrypt figured out a way to hold peoples’ computers hostage. Ransomware basically renders a computer inoperable, and makes it impossible to access files, unless the computer’s owner pays a ransom demand of several hundred dollars.
What makes the WannaCrypt ransomware attack unique is that it impacted people all around the world. However, thousands of individuals and businesses are hit with ransomware attacks every single day, and the effect this can have on your personal or professional life can be devastating. Paying the cash the ransomware demands is no guarantee you’ll be able to get your data back.In this recent WannaCrypt case, paying the hackers never resulted in getting their data back.
Protect Yourself Against Ransomware Attacks
The first and most important thing you can do to protect yourself against ransomware attacks is to keep your computer’s operating system and browsers continually updated. WannaCrypt impacted people who were using Windows XP but left people using Windows 10 alone. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in older operating systems. Your computer will prompt you to update your operating system as needed. You can also adjust your settings so your computer will update automatically without you needing to do anything.
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The second step is to be extremely diligent about only downloading files from known sources and to avoid clicking on attachments unless you are absolutely certain they are legitimate. Ransomware is often delivered through attachments and downloads. Hackers are smart, and ransomware attachments can be disguised to look like they’re coming from someone you know: this is a huge challenge without a universal solution at this point. Being mindful is your best defense.
It’s important to back up your data regularly. We strongly recommend saving data to the cloud. There are a wide range of programs like Dropbox, Carbonite, iDrive and more that are reliable, secure, and provide a home for your files that ransomware can’t touch. Backing up your files means that ransomware can’t hurt you: if you’ve been impacted, have your hard drive wiped and reinstall clean data from your backup. For more information about keeping your computer safe against ransomware attacks, we recommend “An Enterprise Guide to Preventing Ransomware Attacks”, available free for download here.