by Joanie Hollabaugh, ETHOSystems Sr. Director of Marketing

The COVID of computers!

In today’s world, where many of us work from home and IT security may not be company-deployed, we could all use tips to avoid ransomware attacks.

Did you know that the term ‘malware’ is a mashup term for ‘malicious software’? The software vendor, Malwarebytes describes it thusly:

Hostile, intrusive, and intentionally nasty, malware seeks to invade, damage, or disable computers, computer systems, networks, tablets, and mobile devices, often by taking partial control over a device’s operations. Like the human flu, it interferes with normal functioning.

Malware is all about making money off you illicitly. Although malware cannot damage the physical hardware of systems or network equipment (with one known exception—see the Google Android section below), it can steal, encrypt, or delete your data, alter or hijack core computer functions, and spy on your computer activity without your knowledge or permission.

Having been invaded with malware on a personal laptop, I am a big fan of Malwarebytes. Familiarize yourself with launching the Command Prompt app — this is a lifesaver for unlocking systems with Malwarebytes.

Best Practices for Avoiding Ransomware

ETHOSystem’s cloud-hosting partner Swizznet* published a guide entitled ‘Best Practices for Avoiding Ransomware.’

Five great tips for businesses to employ:

  1. Backup your data on a daily basis
  2. Educate yourself on the severity of ransomware
  3. Vet your email contacts — don’t open suspicious emails
  4. Utilize your firewall
  5. Run a trusted antivirus program on your computer

Protect your website

Yes, malware can invade your website, too. It can redirect visitors, replace your webpages with ads, political or pornographic content, or redirect your visitors to other malicious sites.

As a webmaster, I’ve accrued some additional tools (with links for your edification) for defending your website:

  • Install a secure DNS layer on your server
  • Block IPs from countries that don’t use your products or services (we are actively blocking 246!)
  • Install an SSL certificate – this tells the world your site is ‘safe’
  • Use plugins like Wordfence Security, Sitelock and Askimet to set security rules and alerts
  • Backup your website regularly via your web hosting platform or a plugin

The threat isn’t going away

The particularly pernicious aspect of malware is that it is constantly changing and becoming more sophisticated. Like a disease, it mutates and adapts, and attacks randomly. Do your best to eliminate risk both at work and home to protect yourself from paying these thieves to retrieve your data.

*Interested in cloud hosting? Swizznet is a super-secure platform and the preferred partner of ETHOSystems. Give us a call to check it out: 866.482.3400.