Protect yourself against a ransomware attack

Encrypted files on laptop

You’ve likely seen news stories about businesses, hospitals or government organizations being attacked by a ransomware virus. The story usually goes like this: An employee logs in to their computer. Suddenly a warning pops up on the screen saying a computer virus encrypted their files as well as those of everyone on the network. The person is told they have to pay to get the instructions to decode the virus and retrieve their files. But the risk is not isolated to businesses. This scenario could play out on your personal computer.

During National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, take time to protect yourself in advance of a ransomware attack.

How does ransomware infect systems?

A ransomware attack is often triggered in one of several ways:

  • Clicking on a legitimate-looking email that’s actually a virus.
  • Opening a document containing macros — a type of computer command — and downloading the virus onto your system.
  • Unknowingly visiting a site with infected web ads.

Reduce your risk

You can reduce your risk of an attack by taking these steps:

  • Use your web browser’s pop-up blocking modules to keep out unwanted and possibly dangerous pop-ups. You can always allow pop-ups you trust on a case-by-case basis.
  • Enable all software patches from known sources to close back doors into your system.
  • Adjust your file settings to prevent macros from downloading.
  • Back up your files regularly to a removable drive or cloud storage that keeps multiple versions so you’ll always have the most recent.
  • If you’ve paid to have your files unlocked, it’s even more important to monitor all financial accounts like credit card and bank statements. Don’t forget members can access their accounts online in Member Connect to view transactions and catch potential issues sooner.

Discover more ways you can protect yourself online.

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