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I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about ransomware by now. It’s been covered in the news extensively over the last couple years, and for a good reason. Businesses of all sizes are potential targets for this type of cybercrime.

However, I’m not here to scare you or remind you of how dangerous and damaging ransomware can be. Instead, I’d like to give you five simple tips on how to avoid a ransomware attack on your computer systems so you can keep your business safe.

1. Keep your systems updated.

Starting with your Windows OS (operating system) and going all the way down to the apps that you’re using on your phone, it’s important to keep all of your systems and applications updated.

Updates fix common problems and security issues which could be utilized by hackers to gain access to your system, so you want to make sure that everything is as up-to-date as possible.

If a program offers automatic updates, be sure to turn this on so that it will always update as soon as the next update becomes available.

For programs that don’t have automatic updating, you may want to set up a schedule to check for updates once per week or month, depending on how often you use the program or how often updates are typically released for that application.

Keep in mind that the longer you wait to update, the longer your system is at risk.

2. Always backup your files.

This way, if you do come under attack from ransomware, you can simply wipe your computers clean to erase the virus and then get your files back from one of your backup locations.

Although this can be a frustrating process, it’s better than giving into the demands of hackers who may not even follow through with their promise to release your files after you pay them, especially if they think they can get more money from you.

We recommend using a “3-2-1” plan. That involves having three backups in at least two online locations and one offline location.

For your online sites, you could use cloud services such as OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. Other online backup options include Carbonite, Crash Plan, and Backblaze.

External hard drives offer an easy and efficient way to have an offline copy of your files that will be safe from ransomware attacks. If you’re not already doing so, make sure you include a comprehensive backup plan in your IT budget.

Related Article: The Sensible Small Business IT Checklist [Infographic]

3. Use anti-virus software.

While this may seem obvious, a surprising number of people don’t use anti-virus software correctly. You not only need to make sure that you have a good program installed, but also that it’s enabled and offering you real-time protection against any suspicious sites you may visit or links you may receive in emails.

If you’re running Windows 10, an excellent place to start is Windows Defender Antivirus. Make sure that it’s enabled and that you keep it updated.

From there, you may want to consider using additional anti-virus programs depending on how sensitive the information that you have in your computer files are.

This will also depend on your overall budget, though there are many free programs that you can use that offer excellent virus protection.

Additionally, many paid virus programs will allow you to try their product for free before getting a paid subscription to be sure you like what you’re getting.

4. Be careful what you’re clicking.

Most ransomware programs are accidentally downloaded by users who click suspicious links, whether they’re on a website or in an email.

When surfing the web, be careful of websites that look suspicious and never download anything that you’re not entirely sure is safe.

A good anti-virus program won’t allow viruses to be downloaded, but with new viruses being released every day, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Viruses also come in the form of email attachments, some of which can automatically download onto your computer by merely opening an email.

If you get emails from people or companies you don’t do business with that have attachments, don’t open them. Use the phone if you have to, a quick call to verify the content of the email could save you a lot of headaches.

If this isn’t an option for you, consider having a separate computer that’s not connected to the rest of your network for receiving new business inquiries. This way, if that computer does become compromised, you won’t lose your whole network.

5. Create and enforce company policies regarding network use.

Spend some time creating policies within your business designed specifically to protect your computer system from ransomware attacks.

There are no set rules that will work for every company, so you’ll need to figure out what works for you. For some businesses, that may mean limiting or preventing employees from using company computers for personal reasons. For others, that may mean keeping employees off of certain websites.

You may also want to hold meetings to inform your employees of the dangers of ransomware as you outline the steps that you and they will be taking to prevent ransomware and other cyber threats.

Getting all of your employees on board with your policies is the most important thing that you can do in protecting your business against these attacks because it only takes one person clicking one suspicious link to infect your entire system and put your company at risk.

Also Read: Five Common Problems that Lead to IT Security Breaches

Conclusion

By following these simple tips, you can help to shield your business against the next ransomware attack and better protect your business against many other cyber threats.

If you have any questions about the best way that you can protect your computer systems from ransomware or malware infection, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment below. I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions or help you find a solution that works best for you.

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