Technology can seem like risky business as we hear more and more of cyber-attacks, ransomware, computer viruses, and cyber-scams making the rounds. Protecting yourself from this menacing trouble is akin to whitewater rafting. Your journey starts out slow, picks up speed as you go, and then launches you down a swift-moving river through raging cyber-rapids that bounce, toss and thrill you into doing it again. The digital world has much to offer, however, if you aren’t prepared, you can find yourself wiped out on the rocks, disoriented and wondering what happened. While there are no guarantees that you can stay safe, here are a few tips:
Create a Backup Plan
What if you turned on your computer one day and a message on the screen said your data had been encrypted. If your system does go down, what is your plan to keep your business afloat? Do you have access to a resource who can get your computer back up and running? How long will take? Can you quickly access your backup data? Not having a backup plan will leave your sinking raft with no bucket to bail water. A backup plan can help only if you actually use it. If you were to start with a new system, what would you need to put on it? Did you backup everything you would need, the right software and the right configuration? Think it through and plan for you would need should something happen.
Backup Your System and Data
Is your data backed up on a regular basis? If not, how much time can you afford to lose? These days data storage can be far less expensive than the cost of the lost data. Daily backups are a good idea, as well as creating a full system backup at regular intervals. Take regular snapshots of your data and store on a media that is not connected to your computer. Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive offer applications that sync files to their cloud so they are automatically backed and don’t require a constant active backup process.
Keep Software Current and Patch Vulnerabilities
Keep computer system and applications software up to date. Attacks often come through a vulnerable piece of code in a program. The latest version of Microsoft Windows will be more savvy of the latest cyber-attack and have anti-virus and other measures built in. Companies work quickly to create a patch, so make sure you get yours in place as soon as possible.
Invest in Virus and Malware Protection
The old adage “an ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure” applies to our cyber world. Before you open that email attachment or download that free whitepaper, make sure you are extra vigilant about scanning for malicious infections. Once your computer gets infected by ransomware you may find yourself crashed on the rocks with no rescue. Tools, like the premium version of Malwarebytes, include anti-ransomware protection. Note: There are free versions of these types of tools, however, many free versions do not provide protection from the most current threats.
Change Passwords on a Regular Basis
No matter how cleaver you were creating your password, eventually a hacker will stumble upon it. Stay ahead of the hackers by changing your passwords on a regular basis. The shorter and easier your password is to remember, the easier it is for a hacker to hack. Don’t use the same passwords for everything. Try to base passwords on unique nonsense words plus suffixes and prefixes that you can remember. Mix UPPER and lower case, numbers, symbols and punctuation if you can (not all password schemes allow it). If you write them down, say in an address book, keep that book in a safe place under lock and key. Storing passwords on a piece of paper in your top desk drawer may make it much too easy for your kids (or their friends) to find and use.
Each day the cyber criminals devise new ways to be a menace, so prepare your backup plan, make regular backups and follow safe computing practices. These tips are provided here to give you a starting point for protecting your business from a river of cyber disruption. Take care and may your techno-travels be safe and secure.
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