News of a massive Ransomware cyberattack affecting the NHS in the UK and companies in several other countries is alarming – particularly if you own a business. Are your files at risk? How can you protect your system from malware? And what should you do if you become a victim?

 There are some very simple measures to help you prevent an attack like this on your own system. You can also take steps to minimise the impact of infection should an attack get through.

 The most important thing to remember is that Email attachments are one of the most common methods of spreading malware. Once installed on the user’s computer, a “filecoder” code will encrypt the victim’s information and demand a payment as ransom. If the user pays the ransom they are promised a password, but it will only work on their infected system and therefore cannot be used to save another person’s infected computer in the same company.

Scary stuff right? Try not to panic. Here are some tips to help you:

1)    Don’t give out your email address unnecessarily

Lots of attackers collect email addresses. They can often be found easily online, usually on social media and forums. Company email addresses tend to have a format and many can easily be worked out. To a certain extent attackers simply play a numbers game. The more addresses they try the more likely it is people will open the malicious material.

2)     Check the content and sender details

It is a very common scam to receive emails that appear to be from a legitimate company or provider that you use. However when you check the email address it does not appear to be official or related to the company that allegedly contacted you.

Be sure to be suspicious of offers that sound too good to be true and do not click on the links. As well as checking the messages you receive, it’s important to check the information you send. You do not want to spread malware unwittingly.

3)    Use security and antivirus

This is of vital importance to protect your computer and information. The sheer scale of malicious activity makes security and antivirus a must have – not an optional extra.

Don’t be complacent about mobile devices. Malware such as Simplocker can infect these devices. It is worth installing antivirus software on tablets and smartphones.

4)    Keep your system updated

Make sure you update your system and antivirus regularly. It you do stumble across malicious code, you want your antivirus to prevent infection. Not updating can allow attackers to take advantage of security flaws.

A sneaky one to watch out for is malware posing as an antivirus update. Check the authenticity of the software you download.

5)    Back up your information on external drives

This is the ultimate protection of your important information. If malicious code infects and damages your computer or information at least you know that your files are still available to you.

There we have it. Stop reading this blog and go and back up your files! Then you can relax because the truth is, as horrid as these attacks are, it is easy to avoid infection by being diligent and cautious.

By adopting good security practices and a security solution to protect you from malware, it is possible to minimise the dangers.