No doubt, everyone will have seen the recent attacks on many corporate IT systems, including numerous NHS health services. Though the ransomware looks to have targeted large corporations, the same attack could also hit home systems which generally are less protected. So, what should you do? Well the Al-Ashraf Schools IT Team (yes, we too had a panic, all hands to deck this weekend to check everything once over!!!) have put together a few tips, that hopefully will help you to stay that little bit safer.
Firstly, ensure you are using an up to date system, such as Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or better still Windows 10. If you have Windows XP or Vista, then you really need to upgrade, and do it straight away. Microsoft no longer support either of these operating systems.
Make sure you keep your system up to date by going to Windows Update on your PC and updating it regularly, and set it to update automatically each day.
Ensure you have some up-to-date antivirus software on your PC. You don't need to buy, as there are free home versions about, such as Avast, AVG etc. Many online banking services offer you free antivirus - take advantage of it. And ensure you have your firewall on. Do not turn it off just because something doesn't work. It is your first line of defence against internet based attacks.
Update ALL your applications, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Flash Player etc. Everything needs updating regularly, get in the habit of doing that, or set them to update automatically.
One common mistake is to use an administrator account for your day to day work. Only use a 'normal' user account for you and your family's accounts. Only use an administrator when needed, such as installing applications etc.
If you use a USB stick, then ensure it is encrypted or buy a ready encrypted USB drive. There's a few around and they're not that expensive. Or use the software out there such as 7zip to compress and encrypt, if you're more confident.
Finally, backup, backup and backup. Did we mention backup? Get an external drive and back up your data to it and then unplug it. Or use cloud-based services such as OneDrive or DropBox etc. It's free. Use it, as it might be the thing that saves you losing all your data. And backup regularly.
We hope these few snippets will be of use, and hope they keep your IT gadgets that bit safer.
Don’t forget, there’s lots of IT experts within the community, so ask if you need advice.
Al-Ashraf IT Support Team
Helping you stay safe online ...
P.S. Did we mention that you should backup your data?