According to Verizon’s latest annual Data Breach Investigations Report, ransomware continues to be one of the biggest issues in the world of hacking. In fact, according to the report, ransomware is the most used type of malicious software, and so far has been the cause of 39 percent of malware-related data breaches in 2018, which is more than double that of last year.
If you want to keep your business safe from cybercriminals then, it’s important to take ransomware very seriously. It’s not just something that happens to other people and organizations; it’s rampant, and doesn’t look likely to slow down anytime soon. Read on for some tips you can follow to protect your venture today.
Protect Your Computers and Networks
First up, take steps to protect your computers and networks so that no one can break into them easily. For example, install protective software on all your devices. Choose a comprehensive security software product that covers ransomware plus viruses, spyware, spam and other malware; and utilize a specific intrusion prevention system that will protect against known, unknown, and undisclosed vulnerabilities in your network.
It is also beneficial to ensure that all your company’s computers have firewalls installed on them. These act as an additional layer of security, and particularly help to stop hackers from breaking into systems via the internet to steal data. Before you go and buy a product, see if your computers already have one pre-installed on them. Note, though, that these may not be automatically activated, so you may need to change the settings.
Use Quality Passwords
Another simple yet effective strategy to keep cybercriminals out is to use quality passwords on all devices. This means that codes should be at least eight characters in length, and made up of an assortment of letters (lower and upper case), numbers and symbols.
Ensure these passwords don’t relate to anything that hackers could easily guess, either. For instance, avoid using codes that people could determine from your website, social media posts, name or address. In addition, try to use different passwords across different devices and website accounts, and update codes every few months to be more secure.
Update Systems Regularly
If you want to keep your venture’s data safe, don’t be negligent when it comes to keeping your computer systems updated. This is because hackers often take advantage of security gaps and other vulnerabilities which can occur over time in software. You need to update an assortment of things, such as browsers, firewalls, security software, operating systems, plug-ins, apps and the like.
It’s best to set up all of these to automatically update whenever new versions are put out by the software creators or hardware manufacturers. If you don’t want to do this, then at least put notes in your calendar every few months to check for updates and to install them manually.
Be Wary of Common Scams
Hackers often use the same kinds of scams to get access to personal and business data which they then hold for ransom. To stay out of their clutches then, you should be aware of the tactics they use. For example, often cybercriminals sent out emails which are designed to look legitimate, but which actually contain links or attachments which, when clicked on or opened, will insert malicious code onto your computer. This code will typically sit in the background and crawl your machine without you realizing it, taking note of the keystrokes you make and passwords and other details you enter.
Hackers also use “malvertising”, a strategy whereby they embed malware into legitimate ads that you see on trusted websites. They also create fake news headlines which are purposely scandalous in order to get readers to click on the link to read more. These links contain a virus, or they may even take you to sites which look real, but aren’t, and trick you into inputting personal login and other details. Social media sites like Facebook are particularly targeted these days, because hackers know just how many people frequent them.
To stay safe, never open emails or attachments from people you don’t know. If emails seem to come from big businesses, such as banks or telecommunication firms, read the text carefully before clicking on links. If you spot things that don’t seem quite right (such as spelling or grammatical errors, logos that seem off, or requests for information that shouldn’t be required), it’s likely the email is fake. As well, don’t input login details onto websites where you have landed on their pages via a link. Instead, always type in the URL directly so you know you’re going to a legitimate website.