In this digital age it can seem like a scary thing to know there are hackers out there looming in the e-shadows waiting to steal away your sensitive data. However, there are things you can do to mitigate or in some cases prevent damage to your files.
Backups, Backups, Backups. If you regularly back up your files to an offsite location, then the most data you can lose is one day’s worth. Do not be fooled into thinking that local back ups are as safe as off site backups. Local backups are the ones that are stored on a hard drive of a computer connected to your network. If a single computer is infected it can spread like a wildfire throughout your entire network infecting your local backups like any other file. RB Control system has a monitored offsite backup service for this purpose. More information is on our website www.rbcontrolsystems.com
Updates. Microsoft regularly puts out updates and they can often be annoying. Many people decide to disable updates. This is fine as long as you are manually going back to review and install important updates. Many of them will patch holes in the operating system that hackers use to sneak into your system. If you are not interested in managing the updates, it would be a good idea to keep the automatic setting on.
Clean back up Image. An image is a snapshot of your computer drive exactly as it is at this very moment. The files are frozen in time and can be re-installed in case of disaster. If your computer has been infected with a virus it is wise to wipe your computer and re-install a clean image prior to using it again. Viruses and hackers can leave behind remnants that can cause trouble later or even re-infect your computer. If you are unfamiliar with this process, your IT company should be able to help you create and later install a clean system image.
Using safe internet practices is recommended in conjunction with the above. (See our article – “Email Safety and Virus Prevention” for more tips!)
Seeing your data being siphoned away is scary, so what should you do if you’re seeing the hack in progress?
Cut it off at the source. Grab that network cable and disconnect it immediately from the computer. Make sure the computer doesn’t automatically switch to wifi. The network cable is the tube connecting your computer to the outside as well as to the other computers in your network. Without it, hackers can’t reach the data and will be disconnected from it. Once disconnected, shut it down and leave it disconnected and unplugged till an IT professional can look at it.
Know the Tricks. Sometimes a virus isn’t what it appears. If you’ve eradicated the virus but still can’t get your files, make sure they aren’t just hidden. Clicking Show Hidden Files and folders under the folders options menu may reveal your files safe and sound. If this doesn’t work there are some decryption keys available that will decrypt your files in the event of ransomware. Stay safe and don’t panic.