How to Protect Yourself (and your business) from Ransomware

Earlier this year, the insurance company Liberty Life’s IT infrastructure was hacked by ransomware. Ransomware is a malicious software that can either find its way into a system through a security vulnerability or by being installed by someone unknowingly. The latter is usually as a result of clicking on a suspicious pop-up, link or email attachment. Once installed, ransomware encrypts a company or individual’s data or blocks access to a website or system until a ransom is paid.


Although Liberty Life applied immediate security protocols to alleviate as much of the damages as possible, some data was extracted. This is just one example of how cyber crimes have become a great concern, not only for businesses, but for its customers. Over the past several years, cyber attacks have costed large corporations across the world millions, but the result of these attacks are not only felt in the pockets of these businesses but also in their reputation. Compromised data exposes a company’s customers to a series of risks, risks they may be sceptical to take going forward.



On the 25th of May, the European Union launched GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). This GDPR requires companies who do business with EU-citizens to comply to a stringent set of regulations. It essentially gives consumers more control of the personal data companies have on them, how it is used and peace of mind over its protection.



In South Africa, we have the PoPI Act. While not at all as advanced as GDPR, it does require businesses to collect, process, store and share its customers’ personal data responsibly.



That being said, every individual can and should be as proactive as possible to secure their computers and devices even further in order to safeguard themselves from these types of cyber attacks.



Here’s how to protect yourself, and your business, from ransomware vulnerabilities:



1.Never click on any suspicious links, pop-ups etc.


Whatever you do, please do not open a suspicious looking email attachment (usually a zipped folder) or click on a strange pop-up or link. This warning has been broadcasted and shared by billions globally, yet there are still hundreds of thousands of people that fall victim to it daily.


2. Back-up your files regularly


Regularly backing-up all your files to cloud storage that offers automatic versioning can help you safeguard your information. This is perhaps more of a “back-up plan” (mind the pun).  If your system does suffer a ransomware attack, you still have all your information saved safely somewhere else.


3. Update your software regularly


There are a good few reasons why software should be updated to the latest versions, and security-protection is one of them. Software developers are always creating new and improved ways to help you protect your machine from hackers.


4. Install an Anti-Virus


An Anti-Virus programme is an important step in securing your data. It automatically blocks bad websites, offers two-way firewall protection, to name but a few. At we provide our customers with the well-know Eset Anti-Virus solutions from as little as R22 per month.


5. Install an SSL Certificate on your website


If you have a business website you should look at installing an SSL Certificate.This will give your customers the peace of mind that whatever information is shared with you, will be encrypted on their side and delivered on your side in tact, without the risk of it being compromised in the process. It will also turn the “Not Secure” notification you’ll see next to your URL on Chrome into a green “Secure”, which is of course ideal too. It gives customers confirmation that your site is a legitimate site on which they browse and click-through to its various pages. can assist you with a domain-validated SSL as well as an organization-validated SSL.


Apart from all of the above, businesses should consult with experts in the field of IT security to ensure that their infrastructure is and stays without any vulnerabilities.

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