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Safety & security

5 essential steps to protect your computer from ransomware

We’ve all seen the news about the recent fuel pipeline ransomware attack. And some of us felt it at the gas pump. Tap or click here for a refresher on the cyberattack. This really pushed ransomware into the public eye. We all knew it was dangerous, but suddenly, nothing was safe. Not even the government.

Cybercriminals trying to infiltrate government systems have been happening for years in multiple countries. Despite these big-ticket targets, this doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in, say, you.

Ransomware hackers will attack anyone, no matter how big or small, and nobody is safe. If you are appropriately scared, it’s time to learn how to defend yourself. Here are five essential steps to protect from ransomware.

How much of a danger is ransomware?

Ransomware used to be one of a thousand different cyberattacks. Sadly, it’s grown into one of the most dangerous online threats out there. According to Bitdefender’s new report, ransomware increased by a whopping 485% from 2019 to 2020. That is higher than any other online threat.

Whatever hackers are doing to increase their ransomware efforts, it’s definitely working. That’s why it’s critical to take the following steps to avoid becoming the next victim.

1. Start with a solid antivirus solution

Browsing the internet without antivirus software is the worst thing you could do in today’s digital world. Ransomware scammers are on the lookout for computers without antivirus solutions or software that has weak points.

It’s important to keep your devices updated regularly and ensure you have a strong product protecting against ransomware. Kim’s choice is our sponsor, TotalAV. Not only does it give you firewall protection, but it also syncs across all your devices. For more information about TotalAV, tap or click here.

Good news: You can get this five-star protection for a steep discount. Our friends at TotalAV have an exclusive deal just for you. Buy now and you can get real-time antivirus protection for all your gadgets for $100 off. An entire year of protection is just $19. You really can’t beat that.

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2. Get the latest OS patches

Computers come with built-in operating systems (OS) that come with regular updates. If you don’t update your computer, you may leave crucial safety features broken, making them prime for an attack. Always download the latest OS updates. Here’s how to do that on both Mac and Windows.

On Windows

  • Tap the Start button.
  • Select Settings (the gear icon).
  • Click Update & Security.
  • Select Windows Update.
  • If an update is available, select Download & install.

On Mac

  • Head to System Preferences.
  • Click Software Update to see if there are any available updates.
  • Click the Update Now button.

3. Be suspicious of email and social media

Hackers love to lure you in with phishing scams and fake ads on social media. Click the wrong thing, and you could end up with a device infected with ransomware or another type of malware. For a couple of recent examples of phishing scams, tap or click here.

The best way to avoid becoming a phishing victim is not to click links or open attachments that you receive in unsolicited emails and texts. The message could be spoofed and include malicious links that will infect your device with ransomware. When in doubt, throw it out!

RELATED: 7 tech support scams going around right now

4. Always have a backup

Why is ransomware so successful? Because some of us absolutely can’t afford to lose our data, it would cripple our businesses and put us in difficult situations financially and personally. But what happens when you have all your data backed up and ransomware attacks you?

Nothing. Because you have a backup. Hackers have no leverage if you have taken this crucial step. Companies like our sponsor, IDrive, offer cloud-based backups that protect your data so it won’t be lost.

With IDrive, you can back up all your PCs, Macs and mobile devices into ONE account for one low cost. Get 50% off 5TB of cloud backup at when you use promo code Kim at checkout.

5. Be aware of other users

If you share your computer with other people, especially children, you’ll want to take steps to keep them from making your computer vulnerable. Explain to them the dangers of clicking on random links and give them basic information on how to stay safe online.

While ransomware is scary, these tips can help you stay safe online and avoid being stuck in the wrong situation later. To keep yourself armed against other types of hackers, here is the FBI’s top list of scams in 2020 and how to avoid them in 2021.

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