Whilst the global outbreak of the ransomware virus ‘WannaCry’ mainly attacked large organisations, it’s a timely reminder to everyone with a PC, tablet or smartphone that it’s never too early to take preventative steps. So what can you do to make sure you’re guarding against the worst?
- Back up your files: ransomware works by encrypting your files and demanding a fee to unlock them. If you have your important files backed up anyway, you don’t need to decrypt them. Remember to use an external drive that isn’t connected to the internet.
- System and application updates: security updates for your device’s system and applications are designed to fix vulnerabilities which ransomware can attack. It’s important to always install them as soon as they’re available and keep them up to date.
- Don’t click that link: attachments and links in emails or downloads on sites can lead to infectious malware being transferred onto your PC. Hover your curser over email links to reveal the url it wants to take you to. If you’re unsure, Google the sender to find out more and don’t click if anything seems suspicious.
- Install anti-virus protection: whilst there’s no-such thing as 100% protection, you can do a lot worse than some of the free anti-virus packages out there, many of which offer additional paid-for features. They can scan for cached viruses hidden in ads and downloads for infection.
- Social media: whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, it’s all about connecting, sharing and finding out more. Whilst you’re in that frame of mind, it’s easy to click on a download or link that could be ripe with malware. So always think twice before clicking.
- Downloading apps: only do this from official outlets such as App Store or Google Play to reduce the chance of pirate versions which could contain malware. Remember that jailbreaking your phone can also make it more vulnerable to hacks.
- Grammar police: fake links, sites and attachments often have spelling mistakes and bad grammar. Anything like this should be a cause for alarm and a red light not to click or go any further.
- Don’t pay the ransom: if the worst happens and you are affected, don’t be tempted to pay the ransom. You’re dealing with criminals who are only interested in one thing: your money. Once they have it, chances are you won’t hear from them again. If you are affected, get in touch with Action Fraud for expert assistance.
- Unexpected offers of help: it could look like an email from your internet service provider or IT desk at work. Either way, they are offering a patch to protect you against a recent cyber threat – just like the NHS attack. Only guess what? The helpful link downloads a virus.
So the take outs are: keep up to date and use common sense. The hackers are always looking for new ways to make our lives a misery, so don’t make it easy for them. Never reply to requests for personal information and don’t link to sites through unrequested emails.
This article has been created using sources freely available on the World Wide Web.
OwlDetect is here to look out for you online. By monitoring sites on the Dark Web where stolen personal information is sold, we can let you know if your details have been hacked. Then we help you put things right. Find out more here.