Guest Post: Easy Ways to Help Protect Yourself From RansomeWare


Guest Post: Easy Ways to Help Protect Yourself From RansomeWare

    Guest blogger Kyle Arola is an IT specialist at the University of Florida.

    In light of the recent malware attack known as WannaCry, I have listed the most important things you need to do while working online to keep yourself safe. These recommendations are for PC, MAC, and Linux users, even though the latter two were not impacted by this attack, this time. Don’t worry MAC users, your time is coming!

    We are seeing more MAC specific attacks as Apple continues to increase their market share.

  1. BACK UP YOUR DATA! – You know this! It is the first question I ask you when I see you in the hall. If you are writing a new grant, include data storage! For your home systems consider products such as Carbonite, IDrive, CrashPlan, or SOS Online Backup for whole system backups. You can also use an external hard drive, but BEWARE!, external hard drives can become encrypted with the rest of your computer if left plugged in when an attack happens. 
  2. UPDATE YOUR SOFTWARE! – Microsoft released a security patch to block WannyCry 8 weeks before this attack happened! If users had updated their systems in a timely manner, most of the effects of the WannaCry attack would have been mitigated. 
  3. INSTALL A REPUTABLE ANTI-VIRUS PROGRAM! – In addition to the native Windows Defender on PC’s, consider installing another complementary Anti-Virus program. Vendors such as Kaspersky Lab, Avast, Bitdefender, or Malwarebytes will get you additional protection. Most vendors have a free version, just don’t forget to update the software regularly! MAC users need an Anti-virus product as well! 
  4. NEVER OPEN SUSPICIOUS EMAILS! – If you don’t know the sender, especially if there is an attachment, DELETE THE EMAIL!  Your campus might have a tool available you can use to report suspicious emails to a central IT department. If so, it only takes a few seconds to report and could save others from making a painful mistake.
  5. NEVER CLICK ON A POP UP! – Many Ransomware attacks, and many malware attacks in general, occur while browsing online. If a pop up window opens, close it. If you are unable to close it, force shut down your computer! Literally “pull the plug” if you have to! Better to have to redo a small amount of work than lose everything. You have a recent backup, right?
  6. ASK COMPUTER SUPPORT FOR HELP! – If you have a question or concern, contact campus computer support resources for help. Although we cannot perform miracles, sometimes we can get pretty close.

In 2016, over $1 Billion dollars was reportedly paid to unlock Ransomware attacks. This amount does not include unreported payments! Security experts tracking WannyCry are reporting that even upon payment, the decryption keys are not being provided by the attackers and you will NOT recover your data!!!!!  You are going to lose your money and data so please, compute safely!