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Expert tips to avoid falling victim to ransomware

Jeffrey Esposito, Director, North America Social Media, Kaspersky Lab | June 1, 2016
Despite the fact that big businesses and local governments have been recent targets of ransomware, they are far from the only ones who have to worry.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Let's face it, you can't tune into the news without hearing something about ransomware. The scourge of the Internet has seen its profile raise over the past few months. While ransomware may not be new, it's targeting of police forces, municipalities and hospitals has really started to pique the interest of the evening news, because, well bad news sells.

Despite the fact that big businesses and local governments have been recent targets of ransomware, they are far from the only ones who have to worry. You see, everyday Internet users like you and me are also the potential target of ransomware. We store our entire digital lives on our devices and would be lost without them. Chances are people who are locked out of these files would be willing to pay to get them back.

At Kaspersky Lab, we suggest that users proactively protect themselves from threats rather than paying the ransoms of criminals. With that said, we also know that the criminals are always looking for new ways to get into the wallets of hard working folks. So what can someone do to make sure that they avoid falling victim to ransomware? For that, I chatted with Ryan Naraine, the Head of Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) in the United States to see what tips he would offer.

Backup and Secure Your Data

I cannot stress the importance of backing up your data. We live in a digital age where we are storing everything from wedding photos to videos of our children's first steps or words on our devices. Should anything go wrong with that device, you will lose your digital treasures. It is very important to not only back up these files on the cloud but also to a physical device, external hard drive, USB stick, etc., that is kept offline and in a secure place.

In the case of ransomware, the part of being kept offline is truly important. Should your backup be connected whether it is via a USB cable or on a site like Dropbox, the ransomware can get into the files.

Patch and Update Religiously

Do you currently have apps or programmes that note that you need to run an update? If you are one of the people who tend to put off installing updates or patches for your products and apps, you should really start making this a priority.

Aside from updating the product's interface design or functionality (which could be objectionable, let's face it), these patches often fix vulnerabilities that were found in the programme. While it might seem like a pain to install the latest Windows update or Java patch, neglecting can result in your machine being vulnerable to attackers who look to exploit the vulnerability.

 

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