5 Steps You Should Take Today to Minimize Your Data Loss Due to Ransomware

FBI Ransomware Alert

You’re concerned about getting ransomware as everyone should be, but you don’t know what you can do to minimize your risks. Follow these five steps to reduce the chances of your data being hijacked and falling victim to ransomware.

  1. Make regular backups.
    This is Ransomware Defense 101. The scammers want to restrict access to your data, but if you have a recent backup copy of it, you’re one step ahead of them. Organize your vital data so that it is stored in a secure location, and regularly back it all up. – You can back up your data to an external USB drive, or have it backed up to the cloud (we recommend doing both!) How often you back up your data should be based on how often your files are updated. Daily user? Backup daily!
  1. Keep your computer updated.
    Whatever platform you’re using, desktop, tablet, or smartphone, stay up-to-date with your operating system updates and security patches. Did you disable Windows Update? Switch it back on, and make sure you’re running the latest version. *Note – Windows 7 stopped receiving critical updates in January 2020. It’s imperative that you upgrade your operating system to Windows 10 to ensure you’re receiving the latest updates and security releases.
Windows 10 Security Updates
  1. Spot suspicious files, enable file extensions.
    One way of combating ransomware (and other malware) is to use your eyes. Many malicious tools have multiple file extensions (such as, for example; .PDF .EXE) which immediately identifies them as dangerous if you know what you’re looking for. By enabling file extensions in Windows, you can spot and delete them (or let your anti-virus software destroy them).
How to Enable File Extensions
  1. Email Filtering and Hyper Vigilance.
    Most desktop email clients automatically scan incoming messages for malware and viruses that are attached, but hackers are constantly trying new methods to deliver their malicious files to your PC. As a general rule, you should never open an email or an email attachment from someone you don’t know or recognize. To avoid filters, hackers will send you a link that will lead you to a site that will automatically start the download of a malicious file. It’s best to avoid clicking on any links that are received through email, even if the link looks legitimate. Hackers will often change one letter within a domain address, which will lead you to a malicious site. Stay Hyper Vigilant!
Carefully Scrutinize Your Emails
  1. Employ a Firewall and Internet Security Suite.
    As with all data security challenges, the best protection you’ll get from ransomware is with a competent internet security suite and an up-to-date firewall. There are many options available for your network and internet security. Give us a call if you’d like to learn more about our recommendations.
ESET Antivirus and Endpoint Protection

CREG Systems deploys a myriad of tools to help protect our partners and mitigate their risks or malware and ransomware. Call us today to learn more about how we can help secure your network and keep your data out of the hands of cyber-criminals.

CREG Managed Security Services

October is Cybersecurity Month

Stay Aware to Protect Your Company’s Data

Happy October! It’s time for warm drinks, pumpkin patches, cold weather comfort food and Halloween candy. But October also means it’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month! CREG Systems is here with another informative post to help you learn more about how to protect your data. Read on to find out how to successfully manage cybersecurity at your organization.

Click here to read our last post about mitigating the risk of a ransomware attack.

Why is there a National Cybersecurity Awareness Month?

The Department of Homeland Security describes National Cybersecurity Month here as “a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.”

Reports show that around 70% of the malware cyber attacks last year hit small to medium businesses, due to fewer resources they are able to invest in security compared to large organizations. Those numbers may look intimidating. However, you have CREG Systems as Northern New York’s trusted and experienced resource for your small to medium organization’s cybersecurity needs.

What are today’s biggest cyber threats?

We can see in many professional reports that nearly every organization is at risk of facing a cyber threat at any point in time. But what specific dangers should you watch out for?

We at CREG Systems seek to educate the public about how to maintain their network health. We do so by providing educational materials, like this article. We also assess your network and provide recommendations and services that will strengthen your security. Contact us today to protect your data. Meanwhile, here are some common threats that CREG Systems recommends you watch out for:

1. Data Breach and Cloud Abuse

If you are backing up your data online, other virtual apps may gain access to your information and cryptographic keys. Storing your important information on Cloud, while convenient, makes you vulnerable to malicious attacks and data theft. Be very picky when choosing a Cloud provider! Also, make sure that you have multiple-factor authentication in place to protect yourself and your business.

2. Single Factor Authentication

It is time to move one from the outdated single-password security systems. It possesses a huge security risk by giving anyone an easy access to data. The best way to avoid a cyber criminal getting through to your information is to implement multi-level security and at least two factor authentication.

3. Hacking

Hacking is a long-time familiar concept to many. However, it has not become any less of a threat. Each day the Internet gets more and more diversified with apps, cloud storage, devices and users. In turn, that creates many more weak points in network systems. Some ways to minimize the risk of hacking is to keep your credentials secure, create different and complex passwords for each system and put in place restrictions regarding sharing your credentials.

4. Malware Attack

We urge all our customers to learn about malware and how to mitigate the risk of being its next victim. Malware attacks can be caused by various things – from a lack of an internet security software, to bundled free software programs, unfit hardware, file sharing, etc. CREG Systems recommends that you keep your security systems up to date to avoid the risk of malware attacks such as ransomware. Read our ransomware guide here.

5. Insider Threats

Even though many organization already have multi-layer security systems and data protection in place, there is still another risk to consider: people. Users, and especially ex-employees, can become a major threat to your cybersecurity. Always remove your ex-employee’s access and data as soon as they leave the organization. It’s also important to restrict access when necessary, teach employees about the importance of security and have regular testing to ensure your data is secure.

6. Internet of Things

In 2019, most devices connect through the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a recent term that came with the arrival of AI’s, such as Amazon Echo, Apple Siri and Google Home. IoT is a system of interrelated devices, machines, objects, and even people that have the ability to exchange data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. All of the robust internet activity has created lots of weak points and causes for security concerns. That’s why we want you to watch out for all of the threats above to make sure that your network doesn’t become the weak link in the IoT!

Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.

We learn from the National Cybersecurity Initiative toolkit that his year, the National Cybersecurity Month focuses on emphasizing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and at work. The motto this year is Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.  That is to say that we are called to all participate in protecting our data, whether you are an IT professional or just an average user.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. That means that we all play a part in keeping our networks safe. We believe that organizations and their leaders, as well as users and also the security solutions providers, like CREG Systems, all work together to manage your cybersecurity.

Get in touch today to receive a security assessment of your business!

NCIASM National Cybersecurity Month 2019 Logo