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How Can You Stay Safe From a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware has dominated the news recently. Headline after headline reads:

Many of us may scroll past these news stories because we think ransomware attacks only affect large corporations, but cyber-attackers count on catching you unprepared.

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), “ransomware is an ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.” 1

CISA continues to say that anyone with a computer or device connected to the internet or anyone with data stored on their computer, device, or network – including individuals, small businesses, large businesses, government agencies, and healthcare systems – all of these people or groups are at risk from a ransomware attack. 1

Since essentially everyone is at risk and very few of us have millions (or even hundreds) of dollars to pay to get ransomed information released, what can we do?

Dr. Geoffrey Hill, Department Chair of Computer Information Systems and Analytics in the UCA College of Business, has some simple advice: back up your data.

“There are many file synchronization services that are easily available to individuals or small businesses,” said Hill. The automatic synching feature makes it easy to use and guarantees that recent changes are automatically synched to the service’s cloud-based storage.” 2

Hill recognized that the synched files could include the ransomware’s encrypted files but also says that major services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive, provide file recovery and roll-back features that help you to restore individual files or even your entire file library when necessary. He cautions users to be careful when choosing a service because some of them are free while others are only available through tiered levels of paid protection plans. 2

If you don’t have one of these services, make yourself a note to try one, and if you are ever a victim of a ransomware attack, U.S. CISA recommends, “victims of ransomware should report it immediately to CISA at www.us-cert.gov/report, a local FBI Field Office, or Secret Service Field Office.” 1

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a cybersecurity professional, check out UCA’s Bachelor of Science degree in Cybersecurity Management. With headlines like these, demand for individuals educated and trained in Computer Information Systems and Analytics will likely only increase.


Sources:

1 Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. (2021, July 7). Ransomware Guidance and Resources. Retrieved from www.cisa.gov/ransomware.

2 Hill, G. (2021, July 6). University of Central Arkansas College of Business. [Personal Interview].