On May 12th, 2017 the world was hit with the biggest cyber-attack in Internet history by a sophisticated variety of malware called Ransomware. Ransomware infects a computer through the network connection and blocks access to files until a ransom is paid using Bitcoin currency, which is untraceable. The attack, originating in Europe was deployed and infected over 200,000 machines within the first few hours alone.
The encryption used in this attack, which has been named WannaCry, has proven to be unbreakable leaving many businesses and government agencies scrambling to decide their best course of action. To further complicate things, there is typically a time limit on ransom payments before the data is permanently erased. It has been estimated that 70% of businesses pay the ransom when their computing systems are infected, but 1 out of every 4 paying users never recover their data. Cyber security is becoming crucial not only to businesses but to Internet users as a whole, leaving many people wondering how to prevent a cyber-attack from impacting them.
Lucky for you, #TeamIG has come up with recommendations to keep you and your data safe.
Ten Tips for Avoiding Malware:
- Always back up your data, ideally using both cloud software and an external hard drive.
- Keep your operating system up to date. WannaCry exploited a vulnerability in Windows OS that had already been patched, but many users had failed to update their system.
- Ensure internet browser security settings are maximized.
- Remove outdated plug ins and add-ons from internet browsers.
- Never open emails from an unknown sender.
- Never download attachments from spam emails.
- Never click links in spam emails.
- Use a reliable, paid antivirus product that implements auto updates and real time virus scanning.
- Use a guest account on your computer with limited privileges for light daily use.
- Only download software and any other files from trusted sources.
Cybercrime is growing and has become a full-fledged business, which means that precautions need to be taken now more than ever. The next cyber-attack could potentially be even worse than WannaCry, with cybercriminals advancing at a faster rate than the average internet user.
As data becomes more valuable to businesses, it also becomes more effective to leverage for these attacks. Many businesses have paid upwards of $40,000 to retrieve their data which will only encourage Ransomware to be implemented in the future for making a profit. As the digital world continues to grow, businesses and public sector groups need to implement and enforce stricter policies to stay protected. It’s time for cyber security to become a priority to limit the potential of being crippled by one malicious email link or online download.