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Protect yourself against viruses/ ransomware

At this point we have all heard about the ransom ware attack in the news. Cyber attacks which will encrypt your files and demand a ransom in return for the files to be restored to their original state, if no ransom is paid, the files are then deleted. The threat is very real but you can take some precautions to ensure you are as protected as you can be.

Please note these steps should be integrated into your daily routine and not as part of a panic defense against viruses.

  1. Always ensure that your system is up to date. You should use the systems built in update feature or better again, set to automatically update. Microsoft will release software patches to cover up any vulnerabilities until the next “big update”, so regular updating is very important. It’s no coincidence that the NHS and similar organisations are having issues. The use of Microsoft XP is still widespread in government organisations. Microsoft hasn’t been supporting XP for over 3 years now.
  2. Have an anti virus program in place and update it regularly. There is any amount of anti-virus software programs in the market, both free and paid. Make sure you have one installed and updates to ensure that it will get regular updates of newly created threats. These anti-virus programs will update automatically and periodically scan your system. The first day or two that you install them they will seem as if they are constantly scanning and sending you notifications, but this will calm down once it has all its initial work done.
  3. Practice safe browsing. A seat belt is there for emergencies in car crashes but if you can practice safer driving you can make sure there is less chance of a crash. So try not to put yourself in the position to need the anti-virus. Try to use reputable websites, a good rule of thumb is that if you know the website then its reputable, like Ebay, Amazon etc. Avoid downloading any files which you don’t know the origin. Download files or content only from the recognised websites ie Music from iTunes etc.
  4. Don’t open any unknown email attachments. The majority of people know the person sending them the emails. They usually know what they are expecting to get. If you see an email coming in from someone. Read the wording in the email. See does it make sense. For instance does this person usually send you a link to a video of yourself. Or would they usually send you emails with attachments. Always think before you open. If it doesn’t make sense to you, contact the person just to conform that they have sent it and it is ok.
  5. If its too good to be true it usually is. Airlines don’t give away free flights, Phone companies don’t give away free Phones because they have too many, and you certainly don’t have an unknown long lost Uncle in another country that has just died and left you a fortune. Social media and the Internet is full of articles about free phones, money, flights and even cars. These things don’t happen randomly. Think before you click.
  6. Create back ups. Whether it’s an Phone or desktop PC, technology fails. It’s a fact. Things break and your data (files and pictures) are in limbo. By making sure you have a backup system in place, you can make sure that if anything ever does happen your device (virus,water damage, theft or loss) you have all your data safe. For windows you can use the built in file history (just type back up into your search option at the bottom left of your screen). It backs up your important files onto external hard drive. For phones use a cloud based backup system. It means you don’t have to manually back it up everyday. Having a back up means that if anything happens, your data is safe and can be easily restored onto a new device or repaired old one.
  7. The last but most important, Act now. It’s no good worrying about the previous 6 items in this list AFTER something has gone wrong, it’s simply too late then. Put the practices in place so that you can act if anything ever happens.

Share this so your friends are safe swell.