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Ransomware Hackers: 5 Ways To Stay Safe From Being Hacked With Ransomware


The world was treated to the largest ransomware hack in history on Friday and into the weekend. Over 150 countries were affected by these hackers. But the United Kingdom was hit the hardest, as these devious scammers hacked into the National Health Service.

The ransomware hackers mainly targeted computers with outdated programs, such as Windows XP, which is no longer supported by Microsoft.

“There’s some truth to the idea that people are always going to hack themselves,” said Dan Wire, a spokesman for security firm FireEye. “You’ve got to keep your systems updated.”

These scam-artists bait their victims to click onto infected email links or open infected attachments. The hackers can break into computers and networks by just taking advantage of outdated and vulnerable systems. Their virus can spread to all other computers in a network, even if just one person on a computer clicked on the bait.

Let’s take a quick look at the 150 countries affected by the hack, and then I’ll tell how you can play it safe so you’re not the one who gets hacked next!

Ransomware Hackers: 5 Ways To Stay Safe From Being Hacked

Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research & Analysis Team


Make Safe and Secure Backups

Ransomware Hackers: 5 Ways To Stay Safe From Being Hacked

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The bad news is that ransomware hackers can also target backup files. So, it’s best to make multiple backup files on your computer or network. What’s even worst is the fact that many people don’t even have backups files in the first place. “Unfortunately, most people don’t have them,” says Bleepingcomputer.com blogger Lawrence Abrams.

Abrams suggests people to recover the “shadow volume” copies some versions of Windows have. It might be the only shot they have.

Again, it’s best to have multiple backup files, preferably saved onto cloud services or by using physical disk drivers, at regular and frequent intervals. The best plan is to save these back-up files on a drive that is outside your network.


Update and Patch Your Systems

Ransomware Hackers: 5 Ways To Stay Safe From Being Hacked

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One of the biggest reasons why computers across the world were so vulnerable to ransomware hackers is because of a security hole in Microsoft Windows. These weekend targets didn’t apply Microsoft’s March software fix, exposing them to malware that can spread like wildfire in university, business and government networks. If they would have updated their software, their systems may have not been so vulnerable to outside intrusion.

“Hopefully people are learning how important it is to apply these patches,” said Darien Huss, a senior security research engineer for cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, who helped stop the reach of the weekend cyber-assault. “I hope that if another attack occurs, the damage will be a lot less.”

The virus ran roughshod on computers using Windows XP, as well as Windows 7 and 8. Microsoft stopped servicing those programs a long time ago, but recently released a patch to assist users from that awful ransomware attack.

“There’s a lot of older Windows products out there that are ‘end of life’ and nobody’s bothered to take them out of service,” said Cynthia Larose, a cybersecurity expert at the law firm of Mintz Levin.


Use Antivirus Software

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You definitely should invest in at least one anti-virus software product. In the very least, this solution will help protect you from basic, small-time, yet well-known viruses. But the malware is ever-evolving and it’s hard for antivirus software to keep up. Low-end hackers take advantage of users who don’t protect themselves with antivirus software, just imagine the kind of damage that real pros can do.


Educate Your Workforce

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Don’t think common self will prevail if you don’t properly instruct your workers. You should seriously stress to those bright-eyed worker bees that they shouldn’t click on questionable links and do not (I repeat do not) open suspicious attachment. Those hackers may be waiting for you like a spider sitting silently on a web.

You shouldn’t allow your employees to have access to sections of the network that aren’t totally critical to their work. If hackers do find a way into the company’s system, this will prevent the spread of the virus.


If Hacked, Don’t Wait and See

Ransomware Hackers: 5 Ways To Stay Safe From Being Hacked

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Hacked? You may want to shut down/disconnect your computers as a precautionary action. By doing this, you may just have stopped the virus from spreading. This can also prevent continued encryption of your files by the hackers. These thieves wish that you’ll have your computers up-and-running as long as possible, so they can gain complete control.

But if you’re locked out of your files and are facing a coercive demand by the hacker, don’t cave! I repeat, do not cave! Law enforcement and cyber-security experts discourage this practice because it provides incentives for the hackers to continue their crimes and it will pay for their future cyber-meddling.

There is never a guarantee that your files will be restored, even if you pay the hacker(s). But if you don’t have back-up data, some companies find paying up is worth the cost, to avoid public embarrassment, safeguard customer data and critical files.

Ryan O’Leary, vice president of WhiteHat Security’s threat research center, makes note that the ransomware hackers, this weekend, weren’t asking for a millions bucks. They were asking for a fee along the lines of $300. “If there is a silver lining to it, you’re not out a million dollars,” he said.

But others simply refuse to give hackers a cent. “My answer is, never pay the ransom,” Abrams said. “But at the same time, I also know that if you’re someone who’s been affected and you’ve lost all your children’s photographs or you’ve lost all your data or you lost your thesis, sometimes $300 is worth it, you know?”

Safe safe, folks! Keep all your money and files intact!

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Brian DunlopCOED Writer
I've been sent out of college, with honors and such, on the search for the American Dream. I'm a Queens native, filtering through the net for the next hit story. I'm a good bro, too. Check out my brother's art page: https://www.instagram.com/foulfacekoala/?hl=en
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