The newest battle with ransomware is with the WannaCry attack. This ransomware has reached over 200,000 computers.  The attack locks people out of their computer and demands a ransom which increases the longer you wait.

These attacks usually exploits vulnerable Windows system that have not been updated.  First and foremost, install your security updates on your Windows systems.  Microsoft released the fix in March and even patched older versions of Windows that are no longer supported.

It’s heartbreaking to watch people lose all their data, pictures, business files and basically their company with these ransomware attacks.  Often, businesses do not auto update their systems for fear of causing issues with software they are running for their company.  This is how these attacks spread.

Using a ransomware blocker like Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware can help block these attacks.  However, these programs are only there to help.  Practicing safe computer use will help your computer become ransom and virus free.  Here are a few tips to help you along.  Keep in mind, these are just some tips for safe computing.  The best protection for the WannaCry ransomware is the Windows update fix.

Call it what it is, your computer is a safe holding valuable records, information, and many times, money (or access to it). Just as you would keep a safe in your home secured it is important to do the same with your digital documents and personal activities such as banking, shopping, and even socializing. It is important to remember that once you log onto your favorite browser or start reading today’s emails you are not alone, but that does not mean you are unsafe. Passwords, passcodes, pins, firewalls, secured networks, and 2-factor authentication should all sound like familiar terms. All of these security precautions are there for you when common sense fails. Below is a list of simple ways to use these most efficiently:

Passwords: Make sure that you are using different passwords, even if they are only slightly different, for each online login portal. Try changing a number or adding a letter unique to the website. Both are easy password alterations. If you are like most people and forget easily, then save yourself the stress by keeping a paper notebook with a written record of all passwords. (Make sure it is kept up-to-date!)  There are also programs like that will store your passwords for you.  Remember, these do not help you with ransomware.

Passcodes and Pins: These four digit numbers are designed to keep electronic transactions safe and secure. For instance if you file taxes or FASFA electronically you are given a pin in order to legitimatize and verify your identity. If you own a smartphone take advantage of the passcode in as many ways as possible. Some phones have the option clearing all information and wiping the device clean after many failed login attempts. If you enable this function on your phone make sure you are backing up the information either on a computer or cloud to ensure it is not lost forever.

Firewalls: A firewall is an extra precaution that your computer uses to block access from hackers, viruses, and attacks that may cause harm to your computer information or give unwarranted access. It is important to research which firewall is right for your computer as different operating systems have different needs and may come with pre-existing firewalls built-in. According to CNET and other tech websites, blocking port 445 will add extra safety for fighting the WannaCry ransomware.

Secured networks: If you are not home using a private wireless network with a passcode then you are likely not using a secured network. There is nothing wrong with public Wi-Fi, but it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with accessing private information, such as banking websites, while using Wi-Fi in coffee shops, libraries, cafes, etc. To prevent potential problems make sure you are using a secured network while accessing all personal informational websites.

2-factor authentication: Another type passcode used to access secured sites or information online is part of 2-factor authentication. If you login to Facebook on a public computer and Facebook does not recognize the computer you will likely be e-mailed or texted a number to authenticate your identity in order to proceed. This multi-layered entry requiring multiple passwords, passcodes, or pins is what is known as 2-factor authentication. It is important to use 2-factor authentication whenever offered to create an extra barrier between the digital you and cyber attackers.

  1. Common Sense.

In most cases it takes some spout of bad luck to spontaneously end up in a dangerous place or position. Either you drew the shortest stick or perhaps you weren’t practicing the ole faithful and always by your side rule of common sense. When talking about computer safety it may not be so obvious to most what should be common sense. Put simply here are the DO NOTs:

Do not open e-mails from your favorite retailers that appear to have grammatical errors or something slightly askew.

Do not click on pop-ups that may direct you unsecure sites.

Do not download documents, music, videos, or programs without knowing exactly what it is.

Hover your mouse over links on email to see where they are going.

Be aware that cyber attackers are looking for an easy way in and one of the easiest ways is to trick the lazy eye into clicking before thinking.

Back it up! Those are the three simple words to remember that will keep you safe from yourself and others when it comes to digital destruction. There are many ways to keep a copy of your documents, files, and applications. There are flash drives, hard drives, clouds, idrives, second computers, etc. You can choose one or all of these options, but none-of-the above is not an option. Whatever you do, don’t forget to back it up!

Practicing safe computing will make it harder for attackers to target your computer.  Follow these steps and rest easy knowing you are not an easy target.