The national newspapers and cable programs are often filled with stories about hacking events that steal financial data, passwords, and other critical information. When I learn about these events, I usually do not have strong reactions. After all, surely these massive corporations that are targeted can handle a few cyber-security attacks. Why should I bother myself with their troubles?
Amazon, Linkedin, and other major companies have been hacked at some point in the past few years. At the time of these hacks, the events seemed distant. I was not affected, so I simply did not care. This all changed when I awoke to terrible news on a chilly spring morning. I slept well throughout the night, so I did not expect the news at all. However, when I logged onto my computer to check my emails before a day of work, I noticed something peculiar. My system lagged until an unfamiliar interface filled the screen.
When the interface loaded, my heart sank. It stated that I must use Bitcoin to pay a security firm to clean my computer of viruses. The message went on to state that I would not be able to access my data until the payment cleared. My computer had a wide array of important information, and I did not have any data backups. I felt helpless. In my desperation, I did something foolish. I followed the demands of the interface message by paying the ‘security firm’ the stated amount of Bitcoin currency.
When the payment finally cleared, the situation took a turn for the worst. The data on my drives were completely corrupted. My computer was beyond repair. Over the next couple days, I was uncertain what had happened. After asking a friend who works in the IT department of a major company, I learned that I fell prey to a ransomware attack. These kinds of attacks load a program into a computer to tell the user that they are in some kind of trouble. The program promises that the problem will be removed if the user pays a fee to a specified third-party. This kind of attack is not new, but it has become more frequent over the years. These attacks were mentioned on the various news stories that I scoffed at. My naivety was costly, but I made a promise that I would learn from my mistake.
My friend in the IT department informed me that I would have no way of knowing if my data was stolen or destroyed. I was naive during the attack, but I learned my lesson. This is the story of my journey to freedom after being exposed to a ransomware attack. By learning from my journey, you can avoid the anxiety and sense of hopelessness that comes with being being hacked.
Hire a Security Firm
I am clearly not a computer scientist or cyber-security expert. I play PC games and manage financial records on my computer, but the operations of my machine are mysterious to me. To ensure that my lack of knowledge would not expose me to greater risks in the future, I hired a security firm.
While I am not a computer expert, I am a skilled consumer. I know how to identify the best companies in an industry, and I can find great deals. With this knowledge, I enlisted the help of Rubica. Rubica is a reputable cyber-security firm that helped me create a system that is nearly impervious to malicious attacks. Rubica supports its clients with a team of experts who have plenty of technical experience. I was impressed to hear that several of the people who helped me previously worked for the National Security Agency and Scotland Yard.
The team at Rubica used a combination of machine-learning and human cyber-security methods to protect my system. With their AI-assisted software, they monitored my data over time to offer personalized security suggestions. This is an important part of a cyber-security strategy since many risks originate from user behavior. I have worked with Rubica for several months, and my new computer has remained safe.
While Rubica and other reliable security firms can develop safeguards that protect me from the hazards of the Internet, I understand that I am ultimately responsible for the safety of my data. Fortunately, my hardships taught me how to protect myself.
Learn About Security Risks
Whenever I purchase a new computer, the salesperson recommends that I purchase security software to protect my system from viruses, malware, and other threats. This is good advice.
While many people know that these threats exist, they do not know that threats can evolve rapidly over time. For example, the ransomware that I encountered was a new threat that my security software did not filter. As owners of computers, we need to be able to identify the symptoms associated with these threats. To do this, learn the ins and outs of your computer. By learning about the standard behavior of your system, you will know how to identify anomalies. If a peculiar prompt appears on your screen, do not click on it. Visit a computer forum for additional information, or contact an IT specialist. Users do not need to be experts. We simply need to know enough about computers to avoid unusual behavior.
Users of computers can also avoid embarrassing mistakes by paying attention to technology news. Many websites share useful information about new ransomware attacks and widespread hacking attempts. This information can help you identify potential threats on your system.
The experts at Rubica also taught me how to use my security system effectively. Security experts regularly update virus definitions, but users often do not update their security software with this information on a regular basis. To avoid new security risks, ensure that automatic updates are enabled on your system.
When it comes to software on your computer, be a minimalist. Many security vulnerabilities come in the form of legitimate software that is not updated with the most recent patches. To stay secure, this software must be updated on a regular basis. Most people do not have time to track the versions of their software, so you should delete any unnecessary files.
Don’t Use Outdated Operating Systems
Microsoft’s Brad Smith recently told customers that they can help protect computer systems by avoiding interaction with Windows XP operating systems. Windows XP has not been supported by Microsoft since 2014, so it is not patched for recent security risks. Five percent of global computers are operated with Windows XP. This is a major security risk. For optimal security, users should use the most recent version of their favorite operating system.
By following these tips, you can avoid the hardship that I faced when my computer was compromised.