In a time of war, it’s important to stay secure | #malware | #ransomware | #education | #technology | #infosec


As Russia invaded Ukraine, seeing the disruption in the world occur in near real time on social media brought poignancy to what was happening. While I don’t know anyone in Ukraine, I know many people who have friends or family members that have been impacted by the war. Ukraine has many technology ties around the world. It’s also been a source of cyberattacks, which is why there’s extra concern about what we can do to protect ourselves in case of attack. (Eastern Europe has often been the source of many of the ransomware attacks that occur around the world.)

So what can tech users do to ensure you protect yourself from possible cyberattacks arising from the conflict?

First off, don’t try to turn yourself into a denial-of-service attacker to go after various targets. (It’s most likely against the terms of service of your ISP to launch attacks against other countries.) But there are steps you can take to ensure you’re not encouraging cyberattacks — or falling victim to them.

Start by making sure you have an external hard drive and an offline backup. Various ransomware groups have indicated that if any entity or firm attacks Russia, they would take counter measures. So, be sure  you have a recovery plan that doesn’t include paying a financial ransom to these firms. Even if all you have is a single computer, whether you run Windows or macOS, you should have an external drive to store copies of the documents and files you’ll need. I typically purchase an inexpensive external drive that is connected via a USB cable. Then, I either purchase third-party backup software or use the native process to back up my system. If I have a laptop from a standard vendor — and that vendor posts all of the hardware drivers online long after the laptop’s warranty has expired — I typically avoid doing a full traditional backup, including imaging. Instead, I focus on ensuring I can recover the data on the device.

In fact, I might not store data on the laptop at all; if there’s some sort of cloud storage option enabled, I save to that location first. The situation is different in the office, where I might need to get a desktop or a laptop back up and running as soon as possible; there, I’d have a full backup of the system so I can replace the hard drive if need be and get right back to work.

With Windows 10 and 11 systems, you’ll want an SSD hard drive. For these operating systems in particular an SSD as your boot drive is basically mandatory. (You will have a less-than-ideal experience if you use an older, mechanical hard drive, and they’re prone to failure.) At the office, I keep spare blank SSD drives so I can quickly restore a system and get it functional again.

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