Ransomware attacks hijack your computer’s files and make them inaccessible unless you pay a ransom. In 2020 alone, these ransomware attacks increased by over 30%. Unfortunately, the most common way data gets leaked is through this type of cyber-attack, especially since hackers can trick victims into downloading malware by posing as legitimate email services.
To help you safeguard your personal information, we made a list of seven simple ways to prevent your data from being leaked by ransomware.
1) Install Anti-Virus Software
The first step in preventing your data from being stolen by ransomware is to install ransomware protection software like VPreventer and Zscaler on your computer. While that may seem like a no-brainer, one study found that only 65% of businesses use anti-virus software. With so many other security measures to consider—such as installing strong passwords, setting up firewalls, and employing other preventative measures—it’s easy to see why many companies fail to take simple steps like installing anti-virus software.
2) Use Strong Passwords
Hackers can easily crack weak passwords. Keep your online accounts secure by choosing a strong password. The best passwords are a mix of letters, numbers, symbols and contain at least eight characters. Avoid predictable information like birthdays or pet names as you’ll protect them better from guessing programs. Consider creating a password management system to store your logins across multiple sites to prevent forgetting one account when changing an old one.
3) Test Disaster Recovery Plans Regularly
Preparation is everything when it comes to data security. With most ransomware, there’s no getting your data back after a full-on attack, which means your best chance at avoiding losing sensitive information is to never get hit with an attack in the first place. As such, you should regularly test your disaster recovery plan and contact all individuals and departments affected by any potential attacks, so they know what to do and how to react if and when their company gets hit.
4) Backup All The Things
The easiest way to ensure your data is safe? Backup, backup, backup. If you have a small amount of data that you don’t mind losing if things go awry, it may be possible to find an online storage service that will hold your info for free. But if you have valuable data—including text documents, pictures, and videos—you should invest in an external hard drive or cloud service. That way, you can access it anywhere with an internet connection.
5) Only Download From Trusted Sources
There’s not much you can do about a random website or server sending malware, but if you stick to trusted sources, such as Amazon and Apple for software downloads, you’ll lower your risk of encountering ransomware. Furthermore, it’s important to regularly update your devices with security patches and operating system updates. This will ensure that you won’t be at risk if a new virus appears on your devices.
6) Backup Local Files Via Cloud Storage Services
Your best defense against ransomware is a good offense. First, make sure you have a robust backup system in place and store your backups in secure locations that hackers can’t access. This includes backing up your data to an off-site server or storing files in cloud storage services such as OneDrive or Dropbox. Any hacker who can infiltrate these servers would have a very difficult time accessing sensitive data protected by industry-leading encryption algorithms.
7) Update Operating Systems Regularly
All operating systems—even MacOS and Windows—have been vulnerable to security issues at some point. This means users should keep their software updated regularly, including things like:
- Downloading and installing security patches.
- Using up-to-date anti-virus software (it’s common for older versions of anti-virus software to miss new viruses).
- Enabling two-factor authentication wherever possible.
This will help prevent data from being leaked by ransomware or another malicious piece of software.
Like any cyber-attack, ransomware is inevitable. However, by following these seven simple steps, you can prevent data from being leaked by such ransomware attacks. At that point, you’ll be able to reduce the risk of losing important files and data permanently. Remember: prevention is key.