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Defeating the Biggest Business

Cybercrime is the world’s biggest business, and there are no signs it’s shrinking. While you can take a number of steps to protect yourself, here’s what you need to do if you suspect you’ve been hacked: ACT FAST.

The reason fast action is vital is because it takes practically no time at all for criminally minded hackers to get into your system once they find an unlocked door – or find a “cyberlock” they can pick. With a little more time, they can use your information to exploit larger systems to which you may have a connection, such as a large merchant or a bank. Your complacency works to their advantage.

After lying relatively low for a few months, malware and ransomware have once again reared their ugly heads. Google recently removed more than a dozen malware-infected apps from its Google Play store. Variations of the Crypto Locker and Crypto Wall viruses, which plagued the IT world in 2014 and 2015, are coming back in email attachments and fake update notices for Java and Adobe Flash.

If you see something really unusual or strange on your screen, you should call your IT specialist immediately. An IT professional should be able to fix the problem right away. We see a lot of the problems on a regular basis, and we know where to look to make the fix. If you can’t get your IT professional right away, take a picture of the screen with your smartphone and send as text or email. You can also take a screen shot and paste it into a blank Word document that you can save and send to your IT professional. On a Windows-based computer, press the FN key (it usually has blue lettering) and the PrntScrn key (also lettered in blue). Then paste it (Ctrl-V) into the Word document.

As soon as you do that, you can shut the computer off – without saving anything.

To further protect yourself and your data, you need to look before you click. DO NOT:

  • Open email attachments from sources you don’t recognize
  • Open email attachments that look suspicious or odd even if they appear to be from a source you know
  • Click on a link you cannot verify for authenticity

We’ve talked a lot about hacking, and here are some figures to cause concern. Some 82,000 new pieces of malware are released every day, and 600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked daily. On top of that, hackers are finding more ways to load ransomware on your computer, essentially holding your data hostage until you pay them money.

If a hacker manages to defraud you of money in your bank account, you get no FDIC protection. That is one reason why we recommend you stop using a debit card – remember, the money comes directly out of your bank account – and just get a plain-old, single-purpose ATM.

You can also sign up to get alerts from your bank or credit card company anytime a transaction is made on your account. That way, you’ll know immediately if somebody made an unauthorized purchase with your credit card or debit card or made an unauthorized withdrawal from your bank account.

Another concern you should cover is the data on your hard drive if you lose your computer or if it’s stolen. With all the personal data that most people keep on their computers, a computer thief can easily get into your data and find all the account numbers, user names and passwords you have stored. Encrypting your data could make it extremely difficult – if not impossible – to get at your data. At the very least, it can give you enough time to contact banks, credit card companies and stores where you have accounts to shut down activity.

The possibility of losing your computer, having it stolen or getting hacked is also a good reason to make sure your data files are all backed up offsite – and it’s a good reason, too, to rely on the cloud instead of your hard drive for the bulk of your storage needs. Also make sure you have fully licensed application software. With securely backed-up data files and licensed app files, we can clean out ransomware and malware problems and restore your data and apps – and get your security up to date.

We can help you maintain the security and integrity of your information. Contact us by phone – 973-433-6676 – or email to talk about your business or home system, how you use your computer and the best available anti-virus, malware and backup programs for your needs. We can also make sure you’ve set up all defenses properly.