As the American philosopher Drake would say, 2017 is a great time to be alive.  It can also be a precarious time to be alive, especially, if you haven’™t popped out of a time machine and your livelihood is stored digitally.  Whether you are an individual or a company, you store sensitive and valuable data on your computer systems daily, information that you might need at a moment’s notice to continue being successful in your industry. Unfortunately, hackers are keenly aware of this need and have developed viruses designed to bar you from that information, exploiting your dire need to access said information.

These viruses are called ransomware and they have become increasingly prevalent within the last few years. According to Forbes, 2016 saw ransomware attacks increase by an astounding 167 times from the previous year.  In the same article, the cost of such attacks were estimated at $209 million, through the first quarter of 2016 alone, and potentially could be much higher.  This summer Europe and other parts of the world were hammered with ransomware attacks, dubbed ‘œPetya‘ and ‘œWannaCry.’ These are just two examples of the rise in ransomware.   The world is digital and that is unlikely to change anytime soon, therefore, it’™s imperative that individuals and companies alike learn how to protect themselves from harmful ransomware.  Here are 3 tips from Skysoft on how to protect yourself.  

Update Your Operating System:

The pop ups that remind you it’™s time to update your system are annoying, we all agree on that.  However, especially if you are a Windows user, those updates can be what saves you from a malware attack.  For example, according to Forbes, Microsoft had already shipped a patch that should have stopped the ‘œWannaCry’ strain in its tracks.  Unfortunately, most people don’™t update their computers, sometimes for months.  Occasionally, there are reasons for not updating; other times it may leave you vulnerable to viruses.  Odds are you’™re better off updating.

Keep A Remote Backup

Even if you update your operating system the second it arrives, you aren’™t invulnerable. Hackers are smart and able to bypass the security designed specifically to stop just that.  The key then is to treat the problem at its source.  Hackers are after valuable information, which they are hoping you need enough to pay them.  Therefore, backing up all valuable information and storing it on a hard drive, which isn’™t connected to the internet, keeps you covered.  Then, if or when ransomware strikes, you aren’™t left at the mercy of a hacker extorting money for valuable information.

Segment Your Network

Large companies companies with huge data bases, full of valuable information, are routinely the ones who get hit hardest with ransomware.  Backing up such massive amounts of data is difficult and time consuming; hackers know this and take advantage of the cracks.  By installing firewalls between systems and services companies can help mitigate the damage done by ransomware.  Important information that isn’™t used daily should be kept separate from operational system, which must be used constantly.  

With the rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, hackers have found a means of being paid without being traced.  This has opened a giant can of worms and explains why we have seen such a rise in ransomware attacks.  Regrettably, hackers and cybercrime aren’™t going anywhere soon; consequently, consumers must educate themselves on cyber security.  We at Skysoft provide technology solutions for companies and individuals.

Check out our website for more information.