How to protect your blog from ransomware

ransomware

A guest post by Chris Usatenko. 

If your blog is your business, your computer is your most valuable tool. That’s why losing access to it can be catastrophic. This previous article gives you basic tips to improve your cybersecurity, but this is only half the story.

Considering that ransomware attacks increased by 11% between 2017 and 2018, it’s a good idea to revisit the subject. This post focuses specifically on how best to safeguard yourself from a ransomware attack.

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a particularly insidious type of malware that takes over your computer. The hacker’s primary aim here is not to steal your information, but rather to deny you access to it. If you want your access restored, you’ll have to pay the ransom.

According to Statista, the average amount demanded by 47% of hackers is between $500 and $2,000. They’ll usually demand payment in Bitcoin. If you’re lucky, you’ll pay the ransom and get access back.

An increasingly common tactic, however, is for the hacker to demand a second and sometimes even a third payment. With well-written ransomware, removing the malware without paying the ransom is difficult and expensive. In many cases, it might be cheaper to buy a new computer.

What’s your best defence?

Your best defence is to assume that you could be attacked at any time and be prepared. You’ll want to adopt a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity. Start with the basics we spoke about in the earlier article and then take things up a notch.

Start with a strong password

We’re talking about using at least 16 randomly chosen characters. Use a mix of special characters, numbers, and upper- and lower-case letters.

Now punch things up with two-factor authentication

Where possible, use two-factor authentication to provide further protection. Most two-factor systems involve you inputting a password and also a code that’s been sent to your email address or phone.

This extra layer of security may seem inconvenient. But it’s nothing compared to the inconvenience of losing all access to your system.

Use a good anti-ransomware program

It’s a no-brainer to have an anti-virus system installed. Just make sure that it will protect you against ransomware, as well. Alternatively, consider installing an anti-ransomware program in addition to your normal antivirus.

Do yourself a favour – whatever programs you’re using, be sure to set them to update automatically daily. It’s also a good idea to set security updates for your operating system to update automatically too.

Now punch things up by adding an email scanning program too

94% of ransomware can be traced to phishing emails. If you’re handling high volumes of emails, installing a cloud-based email scanner is a good option. These scanners use sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence to identify patterns that suggest that an email is not as innocent as it seems.

Emails identified as risky are quarantined in the cloud. You can check the quarantined items to make sure that no legit emails have been flagged. Those emails can be released so that you can respond. The rest don’t even make it onto your system.

Backup your data regularly

Again, this is a little inconvenient, but it’s essential. If you’ve backed up all your data, the damage from an attack is minimised. You’re not forced to pay the ransom and hope for the best.

Now punch things up by storing an additional backup offsite

Many of us are so focused on backing up our data in case of a breach that we forget that data can be lost in other ways too. Consider backing your data up to a secure cloud service in addition to keeping a hardcopy.

Alternatively, create a second backup and store it in a different building. That way, if there’s a fire or flood in your home or office, you’re covered.

Keep up to date on the latest techniques hackers use

It’s a good idea to subscribe to a good cybersecurity newsletter. By being aware of the tricks used, you’ll be better able to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

Now punch it up by also setting up a Google Alert

This is a great way to keep track of the latest news on new viruses that are out there. You choose how many alerts you’d like to see daily.

Final notes on ransomware

Overall there’s no magic bullet when it comes to ransomware or cybersecurity in general. You must always be vigilant, and also have several tiers of security in place. Therefore if one security measure is compromised, you have a backup.

About the author

Chris UsatenkoChris Usatenko is a computer geek, writer, and content creator. He is interested in every aspect of the IT industry. Freelancer in his nature, he is willing to get experience and knowledge from around the world and implement them in his life.

Infographic on ransomware

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Alice Elliott writes the award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She provides simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Visit her new Beginner Bloggers blog to find her latest learning resources.

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