Organizations across the country are learning from cyber attacks perpetrated in Atlanta, Newark, and Sarasota. Similarly, large targets such as San Francisco’s transit authority and Cleveland’s airport have also been targeted. The growing threat from ransomware, which locks up the victim’s device and files, is hard to track down to the source. Fortunately, many attacks are preventable with the right training and compliance with company policies.
Cyber hygiene involves putting processes into place to make it more difficult for hackers to attack your network. First, use two-factor authentication. Also known as dual-factor authentication, this creates an additional layer of security since it requires two proofs of identity. The most common method includes both a password and a one-time code texted to the user. Individual users should also back up data offline using an external hard drive or another device.
Internal firewalls deter malicious actors attempting to access your computer. When suspicious activity is detected, the suspect device is locked and denied access to the rest of the system. It’s similar to quarantining sick people to protect healthy ones.
Require staff members to regularly update passwords since cybercriminals can sometimes buy stolen passwords through the dark web. Take special precautions for remote access, which creates unique vulnerabilities. Make sure that your IT team has a process for detecting and eradicating threats associated with remote access to the company’s network and data.
Most ransomware attacks begin with what’s known as a phishing email. The hacker tries to get users to open attachments or links — which install ransomware on the computer. Here are a few tips on identifying phishing emails:
If an odd-looking email seems to be coming from a friend, verify its validity before opening the email.
Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in software, and patches are released to fix them. When your computer prompts you to update the software, do it.
According to a recent 60 minutes episode, hackers shut down systems at a hospital in Indiana. The hospital had to pay a $55,000 ransom to unfreeze its systems. Other organizations should learn from this experience and establish a robust security protocol.
Anti-malware programs cannot scan your PC without permission. No reputable company sends you scary emails or pop-ups as a marketing ploy. These messages are scams and are commonly referred to as scareware. They may even introduce infectious viruses on your computer. Avoid opening emails from senders you aren’t familiar with. Never give your computer credentials, personal information or credit card information to these bad actors.
There are things you can do to avoid scareware threats. First, avoid programs that pester you to register your device or buy software to clean up your computer. You could end up paying to clean up your working computer. Even worse, you could end up giving unknown cybercriminals access to your personal information. When you want to purchase malware protection, go directly to a reputable provider. Many companies offer free software to scan your system from their home page.
Sometimes, when you download software, you get a prompt asking if you wish to download toolbars or change the home page of your browser. Don’t do it. Even though this is becoming common with legitimate software, it puts your system at risk. Known as “crapware,” these extras are often harmless and may even be quite helpful. However, there are times when adding these components open you up to cyber theft. It can also display annoying pop-ups and impact your computer’s performance.
You can avoid these attempts to bundle software. Extra apps that companies sneak onto your device aren’t always malware initiatives. They are, however, very annoying. Your computer can become so bogged down it’s practically inoperable. If you download the latest version of software such as Adobe Flash, reach every screen during the installation. Uncheck all boxes regarding additional toolbars.
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