How to Prevent Ransomware

Published in The Jena Times, October 27, 2021 Copyright 2021 Kim Hester

(Editor’s Note: October is Cybersecurity
Awareness Month. The following article on how
to prevent ransomware was written by LaSalle
native Kim Hester. Kim was raised in the Little
Creek and Jena communities. Kim’s father, Orvis
Hester, was a prominent businessman in the parish with branches of his furniture and appliance
business in Jena, Trout, and Olla. Kim graduated
from Jena High School and Stanford University,
and is former editor with the Bureau of Publications of the California Department of Education.)

By Kim Hester

Like it or not, each one of us has to fight cybercriminals. It is a sorry fact of life that these
criminals are hard at work trying to infect our
personal and business computers with ransom
ware that demands we pay exorbitant fees for
restoring our data that has been frozen and encrypted.
This is happening to everyday citizens around
the world, and to many businesses as well, that
cripple economies and steal from personal bank
accounts. These cybercriminals are the scum of
earth as evidenced by their lack of morals when
they inflict ransomware on hospitals and medical agencies causing harm to individuals in their
care, and even deaths.
Certainly, it is time for all of us to take steps
to protect our computers and virtual data from
such heartless and evil attacks.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to
protect our digital assets from damage by ransomware. Below are some of the most vital such
steps everyone should undertake as soon as
possible:
• Install virus protection software on your
computers
• Backup your data both online and in an
external hard drive
• Begin using good passwords
• Begin using multifactor authentication
• Keep your devices and applications updated on a regular basis
• Start a policy of “zero trust” in your online
activities
Let’s focus on each of these steps.
VIRUS PROTECTION SOFTWARE: PC Magazine recommends a number of good choices for
software in its online article https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-antivirus-protection.
BACK UP DATA: You must back up your data
regularly both in online backup systems and in
an external hard drive.
GOOD PASSWORDS: Use long and difficult
to figure out passwords for your online activities. LastPass (lastpass.com) is an excellent
online service that can help you to create good
passwords and manage them.
MULTIFACTOR AUTHENTIFICATION: To log
onto an important website such as in banking
services, it is vital to set up multifactor authentication in order to prevent criminals from hacking into your accounts.
UPDATE DEVICES REGULARLY: Applications such as Microsoft Office create updates
that help prevent cybercrime. Therefore, you
should install these updates regularly to keep
ahead of cybercriminals before they attack your
computers and systems.
ZERO TRUST: Do not trust anyone online
without making sure they are legitimate and not
criminals. Do not click on links in email unless
you are dead certain they are safe. Always be
wary of online activities so you do not become a
victim of cybercriminals.
Following the above steps can help to keep
you and your computers ahead of vicious and
immoral cybercriminals. But if you are ever a
victim of ransomware or other online criminal
attacks, you should contact your regional office
of the FBI and also the CISA (Cybersecurity &
Infrastructure Security Agency).
The FBI may have a deciphering tool to help
you get your data back and can help you in other
ways. The FBI also has free resources that can
be found on its website https://www.ic3.gov/
Content/PDF/Ransomware_Fact_Sheet.pdf.
The CISA also may be able to help. It has
excellent free resources that can be downloaded from its website (https://www.cisa.gov/stopransomware).

Kim can be contacted at kimhester@stanfordalumni.org



Categories: Essay

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