Prevention in Action: 11 Easy Steps to Protect Your Computer or Device against Ransomware and Other Threats

Cybersecurity is everyone's responsibility. Here are 11 easy steps to help secure your computer or device to deter hackers and avoid some kinds of malware, including ransomware. Taking these proactive steps will help you keep these unwanted elements out.

  1. Update all software, operating systems, and firmware to the most current version. Deploy automatic updates, if possible, or install patches or upgrades as soon as they become available. (Have you're settings configured so that updates are checked for as frequently as possible.)
  2. Update your web browser and web browser plug-ins. Check your web browser plug-ins. Remove or disable plug-ins that you do not use. Update all plug-ins that you do use to the latest version. Examples of plug-ins include Adobe Acrobat Reader, Java, and Adobe Flash Player. Also, only use plug-ins that are from a trusted, known source/publisher.
  3. Download software only from trusted sources. Be cautious when downloading free software or files obtained from peer to peer (P2P) networks.
  4. Help prevent data leaks by not sharing your files or directories. As an example, a user may inadvertently share sensitive or proprietary information via a P2P network or online storage service.
  5. Disable Word macros, if possible.
  6. Regularly back up your files and data--the more frequently the better. Real-time is best. Safeguard your backups in a safe place.
  7. Use a strong password that is hard for someone to guess and easy for you to remember with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not write it down or have it in a document--others may be able to grab your password. Remember--the goal is to make sure you have access and not anyone else.
  8. Do not catch that phish and do not fall for the scam. If an email or attachment seems suspicious, throw it out. If you are unsure, contact the sender and your IT department.
  9. Do not browse websites that seem suspicious. When in doubt, contact your IT department.
  10. Be careful when clicking on shortened website links via social media. Check on what the link points to with a web service that tells you what the shortened link points to.
  11. Regularly update your antivirus software and definitions. Make sure your firewall is running and properly configured. Whitelist your safe applications. Consider geoblocking IP addresses in terms of network traffic in and out, if possible.

We hope these steps are helpful. While not all inclusive, the purpose of this list is to help you along your journey of cyber-deterrence by staying ahead of threats.

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