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Technology, Construction - 5 min read

Tips to keep yourself protected from cyberattack

David Cartwright

Senior Marketing Manager - Software

May 17, 2017 3:30:00 PM

Last week the world was shaken by the largest cyberattack in history.

The attack, which used ransomware known as ‘WannaCrypt’, infected tens of thousands of computers worldwide, shocking the business world and crippling many organisations. It works by encrypting files so you can no longer use them and demanding a ransom or payment in order to regain access.

Sixteen hospitals in the UK, telecommunications companies in Spain and Russia, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and international shipping company FedEx were all affected by the attack. Australia also suffered, with cases being reported in some parts of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and rural NSW.

In the wake of this latest cyber incident, individuals and businesses around the world are taking the time to update their systems to protect themselves against future attacks.

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from cyberattacks and prevent your computer being infected by ransomware.

Keep  up-to-date.

Having up-to-date software is a key preventative measure to ensure you are protected. The speed and severity of the attack shows how many people and businesses don’t keep their systems up-to-date. There are a number of ways you can maintain a current operating system and remain up-to-date with your software:

Upgrade to the lastest version of your operating system.
The WannaCrypt ransomware only targets out-of-date systems, as do most ransomware attacks. People who had updated to the latest version of Windows (Windows 10) were not affected.

Install system and security updates.
Install the most recent updates of your operating system, to ensure you have not only the latest features of the system, but are also protected by any risk mitigating mechanisms that have been built into the update. The easiest way to do this to to enable automatic updates. If you do not have automatic updates turned on, you will need to manually find and install them.

WannaCrypt worked by taking advantage of a bug in Windows that had been highlighted by a previous ransomware attack, for which a patch or security upgrade had already been released. If the companies who were affected by the incident had installed the recent update, they would not have been vulnerable to attack. Delaying the installation of updates only puts yourself and your business at risk.

You can get the Microsoft updates here.

Make sure your software is compatible with your operating system.
Review your business software systems to ensure you regularly update to the latest versions of their software. If you have been operating under Windows XP and now need to update your operating system to protect against WannaCrypt, you’re at risk of your other software systems not being compatible. Operating the latest version of your software systems allows you to proactively protect yourself against these system incompatibilities.

Some organisations like Buildsoft offer a software assurance package for their products, which provides you with regular updates. This ensures you are always operating the latest version, benefiting not only from the latest features, but also the most up-to-date fixes and risk mitigating measures that have been built into the software. Buildsoft’s Software Assurance Agreement also provides you with access to their professional support team, to lead you through using the software and troubleshooting any issues you many have.

Software Assurance CTA tile 1.png

Install and use up-to-date antivirus software.

Antivirus software will give you added protection against viruses and other malware, by blocking, alerting you to and deleting malicious files in real-time. Systems such as Microsoft Security Essentials also offers updates to protect you against specific threats, including WannaCrypt.

Beware of suspicious attachments.

Some of the cases of infection from the WannaCrypt ransomware were as a result of ‘phishing’, or appearing as a trustworthy source and sending files directly to people’s emails to encourage them to open attachments. Be wary of clicking on links or opening attachments, emails or files from companies that you don’t know.

Have a pop-up blocker.

Some websites contain pop-ups that automatically appear on your screen. Not only can they be annoying, but they have hidden codes which can redirect you to other websites and download malicious files to infect your computer. Turning on the pop-up blocker for your internet browser will reduce this threat for you.

Back-up your files.

Regularly backing up your important and business-sensitive files is an essential way to protect your data. Have a good routine in place that saves your files to an external storage device, or a cloud storage service such as OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox, which retains an archive. This will allow you to recover your documents if you do become the victim of a cyberattack, and minimise the detrimental impact it can have on your business.

Enable firewall.

Turn your firewall on to prevent suspicious programs from getting access to your computer, using the Internet and trying to download harmful files to your computer.

Cyberattacks are growing in their frequency and severity. The WannaCrypt attack is still under investigation and is still active. It is possible that the attack will evolve, so it is essential that you take measures to protect yourself and your business from the risk of infection.

You can see further information and advice on ransomware and how to protect yourself from it here

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