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Ransomware: 3 Ways to keep your Credit Union safe

May 15, 2017

It’s likely you’ve heard all about the WannaCry Ransomware attack that hit companies worldwide including FedEx in the USA, the Russian Interior Ministry, and 61 NHS organisations in the UK.

Due to the sensitive financial information that Credit Unions hold, we want to help you make sure you’re doing everything you can to prevent falling victim to a ransomware attack.

Here are our 3 top tips for staying safe:

1. Don't open suspicious attachments

Some suspicious emails are easy to spot – but it’s important that you don’t get complacent. Emails with ransomware attachments are becoming harder and harder to spot.

If you get an email from a source you recognise, such as a colleague or partner organisation, don’t always assume it’s a legitimate email. Pay attention to the email itself – does it sound legitimate? Is there a reason that this person would be sending you this attachment?

If you’re not sure, don’t open the attachment. Contact the person or organisation who the email is from and double check with them if it’s legitimate.

This type of ransomware comes mostly from .ZIP and .RTF files, so be extra vigilant of attachments that end like this.

2. Make sure your files are backed up and secured off-site

It’s important to have your backups somewhere completely separate from your usual work network – that way, if a ransomware virus infects your main system, you can have access to the files.

It’s best to create two secondary backups, one cloud-based (with automatic backups) and one in a physical form like a hard drive that is regularly updated. Always disconnect an external physical storage device from your computer when you’re done using it so it remains separate to your main network.

3. Keep your Windows & antivirus software up to date

Your computer will automatically remind you that updates need to be installed – make sure you install them whenever available. These updates usually include changes to virus databases or extra security measures behind the scenes of your operating system.

When your computer updates, make sure you restart afterwards every time.

It’s important to have antivirus software other than the default Windows Defender program on your computer – we recommend Symantec. No Symantec systems have been affected by WannaCry, and they’re a very robust system.

Most antivirus systems give you the option to turn off “heuristic functions” – leave these intact, as they help the program catch samples of ransomware and other viruses that haven’t been formally identified yet.

Generally, if you do become a victim to ransomware, advice from most security organisations is not to pay the ransom, as there’s no guarantee you’ll get a decryption key in return. If your computer does become infected, immediately disconnect it from the internet and from any networks you’re logged into in order to stop the virus from spreading.

There’s no one way to prevent ransomware from infecting your computer, but the most effective thing you can do is stay vigilant and ensure you’re making safe choices when it comes to opening attachments and clicking links.

The Wellington IT networks team proactively ensure customers are protected with up to date antivirus software and failback systems. If you’d like to find out more about how Wellington IT’s Networks Team can help your Credit Union with its IT Security needs, just get in touch.