Headlines worldwide are now screaming the news of yet another widespread ransomware attack, this time targeting hospitals, health care systems, and other organizations in Europe, Asia and beyond. According to the reports, cybercriminals have once again crippled vital computer networks around the world. Much news attention will (and should) focus on who did it and what damage it causes, but we absolutely can’t lose sight of the fact that it can be avoided or at least mitigated if people will take a few simple steps. We’ve said all this before, but it bears repeating:

  1. Run regular software and hardware updates. Software and hardware updates often contain security patches to holes that malware, like ransomware, wiggles its way through. The best type regular software updates are automatic ones, but if that’s not feasible, at least set up notifications to let you know when the latest update is available. Then set a max number of “snoozes” you can set.
  2. Have layered, redundant security in place. Ransomware is often delivered via an email attachment or malvertisement on the Web. By having email and Web protection, you can prevent ransomware from ever entering your network.
  3. Back up your files. A secure backup allows you to rid your network of malware and then restore your files. A pain? Yes. But it means you don’t have to pay a criminal and hope he keeps his word to un-encrypt your data.

Also, keep in mind that the only reason why these thieves launch these attacks is because people pay them. If everyone refuses to pay, they no longer have a business. As a side benefit, you’re cutting off money to the other illegal enterprises (think terrorism, drugs, human trafficking) this money supports.

Say it with me now: Back up your files, update your software and hardware, and get a layered, redundant security system in place.

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