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Don't be the next ransomware victim: 5 simple steps to protect yourself

Don't be the next ransomware victim: 5 simple steps to protect yourself
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Even though you can't see them, cyber attacks are very real and have very real consequences. Just this week we told you about the rise of "CEO" phishing attacks, the next generation of ransomware, and major flaws in both iPhones and Android devices.

In short, cybercrime all across the board is thriving. In fact, in 2015 alone, there were 2,453 reports of ransomware, equaling a total loss of about $24.1 million. Talk about a big headache. Fortunately, there are easy and simple ways you can prevent these attacks from hitting you. Here are five tips to make yourself a less likely victim:

1. Make safe and secure backups. If a hacker steals something like your family photos or work documents and demands money for their safe return, the joke is on them if your files have all been properly backed up.

2. Update and patch your systems. Hackers are always on top of their game. It's like playing a constant game of cat and mouse, cops and robbers, or cowboys and Indians. That's why it's important to keep all of your systems up-to-date. Security researchers are always finding holes for hackers to exploit and issue patches to cover those holes. Most updates only take a click or two and those clicks could be all the separate you from being a cyberattack victim.

3. Use antivirus software. Why you wouldn't be using antivirus software in the first place is beyond me ... even if you're a Mac user. It's the most basic form of security and can stop most basic threats and warn you if any viruses happen to make it through.

4. Educate your workforce. Remember the CEO scams? Those scams are on an alarming increase, so one of your most valuable tools is education and awareness. If you, or any of your employees, know how to spot the warning signs of a scam, chances are that you'll be less likely to fall for it.

5. If hit, don't wait and see. If you even suspect that you've been hit, you'll want to take immediate action. Quickly disconnect your computer from the network and contact authorities for major attacks, like if you get hit with ransomware.

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