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To keep your finances and your family’s sensitive information safe, it’s important to keep hackers at bay. If you’re self-employed and have money, time and energy invested into a business, it’s vital that you take steps to protect your work, too. These days, this means you have to be on alert against ransomware.

This particularly digital threat has grown immense over recent years, all around the world, and it doesn’t seem likely to slow down any time soon. Ransomware involves cybercriminals gaining access to systems to steal data and crash systems and threatening the elimination of information or access until a ransom has been paid.

Read on for some steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, your business and your investments from ransomware today.

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Install Security Software

One of the first, and main, steps to take is to install security software on all your computers. There are some excellent maximum security products on the market, designed to protect businesses and individuals from not only ransomware but also other types of hacker attacks. There are free versions available, but it’s typically best to invest in a paid product that is comprehensive and will cover multiple devices against spam, spyware, malware, viruses, ransomware and other types of threats.

It is also a good idea to utilize firewalls on your computers. These are helpful as additional barriers against cybercriminals, especially when they try to use an internet connection to break into your networks and devices. Many computers come with firewalls pre-installed; however, it’s necessary to check the settings on your device as while a firewall may be uploaded by the manufacturer, it may not have been activated. Alternatively, purchase a third-party product.

Produce Proper Passwords

As you might imagine, having secure passwords in place is another vital step to stay protected. Ensure you and anyone else who accesses your devices use good-quality codes – not just on computers but also on devices such as Wi-Fi routers, smart-home products and all the different websites, apps etc. where you log in. You must particularly secure sites where you access or store sensitive information, such as bank accounts and social media platforms.

To keep cybercriminals at bay, create passwords that are at least eight characters in length; this makes them much harder to crack. You can also increase security by choosing codes made up of a variety of symbols, numbers and letters, both upper-case and lower-case ones. Make sure you and your team members change the passwords you use on devices and websites regularly. These codes should be changed around every eight to 12 weeks, for maximum security.

Update Regularly

Hackers often take advantage of people who are lax when it comes to updates and use security gaps to gain access to data. To prevent this from happening, update operating systems, firewalls, security software, browsers, plugins, apps and so on as soon as new versions become available. It is wise to set up updates to occur automatically, so you don’t have to worry about doing it manually.

Back Up Data Daily

If you want to avoid being compromised by a ransomware attack, you need to think about protecting your data on a daily basis. Hackers cannot force you to pay a ransom if you have all of your important information stored elsewhere; you can simply erase your devices and boot from your latest backup. To stay safe, all your personal and business data needs to be backed up, remotely, on a daily basis.

It is best to back up to the cloud, as this tends to be a more secure option. You can choose to copy your information over to an on-site system or server, but be aware that cybercriminals can also often find ways to encrypt and lock these types of local storage devices when they break into your computers and networks. As such, remote backups are usually the most secure.

If you do choose to back up to a hard drive storage unit that you keep on site, at least make sure this is kept offline and unconnected to other devices at all other times except for when you’re copying information.

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