Recently, a global cyberattack affected countless computer over 150 countries. Ransomware is malware that locks your keyboard or computer to prevent you from accessing your data until you pay a ransom. The digital extortion is not new—it’s been around for years, but attackers have greatly improved on the scheme with the development of ransom cryptware, which encrypts your files using a private key that only the attacker possesses, instead of simply locking your keyboard or computer. And these days, they also target mobile phones.
“This most recent attack was in fact largely preventable, if only more Windows users had installed the critical security patch that Microsoft released for it two months ago and followed a few other security rules. Criminals took advantage of the fact that most people still don’t do enough to protect their computers,” said Marty P Kamden, CMO of NordVPN (Virtual Private Network).
Below are some simple strategies to not fall victim to ever evolving cyber attacks:
- Install latest security updates.
- If something looks suspicious, don’t click on it / don’t open it: If it looks dubious, it usually is. Always contact the organisation that the email claims to be from to check. (Contact them through a contact number you know is correct). Never give your personal details if asked via email.
- Back up all data: Back up your data in an alternate device and keep it unplugged and stored away.
- Close pop-up windows safely: Ransomware developers often use pop-up windows that warn you of some kind of malware. Don’t click on the window — instead, close it with a keyboard command or by clicking on your taskbar.
- Use strong passwords: As hard as this may be, the simplest protection is using strong passwords, and choosing different passwords for different accounts. A strong password has a minimum of 12 characters and includes a strong mix of letters, numbers and characters.
- Use a VPN for additional safety: Using a VPN when browsing can protect you against malware that targets online access points. That’s especially relevant when using a public wifi. However, keep in mind that a VPN cannot protect you from downloading malware.
- Use antivirus software: Make sure you have installed one of the latest reputable antivirus programs to make sure you are fully protected.