By Andrew Locke

January 18, 2017

There a ton of people in every conceivable industry that are still storing tons of important and critical electronic files on their laptop and PC hard drives. It’s important to know that this practice is seen, increasingly, as a bad decision. Why?

Let’s take a look at the medical services industry. Last year saw a fall in the number of medical records compromised by hackers. Many medical groups, insurance companies, medical practices, EMR firms and the like increased funding to their cyber security programs and increased their vigilance as they attempted to make sure their client/patient records were protected from the hands of hackers. As a result, according to CSO‘ s Maria Korolov (@MariaKorolov):

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Although the number of organizations breached went up, from 57 last year to 93 this year, the total number of records lost fell by nearly 90 percent to just 12 million records.

So, what did the hackers do?

Not to be defeated, the hackers moved their focus from hacking medical records databases to tricking unsuspecting people with a neat little scam called “ransomware.”

Ransomware comes in an email, just like those old fraud emails that tried to get you send your bank account information to a Nigerian Prince. The difference is that this email contains a type of malware, sometimes linked to a website, sometimes hidden in an attachment, that attempts to get you to believe that, unless you act right now and go to this website and enter your payment information, all your files will be locked down and inaccessible. In most cases, this malware will actually encrypt your files. It sounds preposterous to many people, but just by clicking a link in a cleverly disguised email or by opening an infected email attachment, your entire computer could be locked down, and you could be stuck paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get the encryption key. Not a good day.

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How do you protect yourself and your company from ransomware?

Well, Heimdal Security has a helpful list of FIFTEEN steps to take to protect yourself and your organization. The first two items though have to do with what you keep stored on your PC or workstation and where you back up your most important data:
1. Don’t store important data only on your PC.

2. Make TWO backups of your data: on an external hard drive and in the cloud.

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Andrew Locke enjoys hiking, playing music, theology, soccer and spending down time with his five fabulous children and beautiful wife.

Quote to live by: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

–Theodore Roosevelt


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