Annual reports, assignments, and even research papers can take quite a bit of time to put together. You need to research or source information, put the content together, create graphics, send for review, update, and repeat. You become so invested in the document that sometimes you don’t always back it up in another location. Often, the only version sits on your computer.

While that is usually fine, it could become a problem if your computer crashes, preventing you from accessing anything on your hard drive. Even worse, if you’re hit by a ransomware attack, your computer is suddenly encrypted, and you need to pay a ransom to get your data back.

Not backing up could come at a high price

A ransomware attack takes the form of malicious software being installed on your device, without your knowledge. It can be hidden in email attachments, fake websites, and untrustworthy applications. In other instances, cyber attackers will find loopholes in networks and servers, gaining unauthorised access and running code to carry out their attack.

These attacks come in many forms, yet have the same purpose: to encrypt your information so that you can’t access it. Criminals target individuals and companies alike, so it is your responsibility to do everything you can to protect your digital assets, those of the university, as well as the UCT network.

It is therefore important to have a backup strategy in place. You can decide how often to back up your data using an external device or cloud storage. Whatever your preference, to be safe, please ensure that you make a copy of all your data.

Dust off your cybersecurity armour and suit up

Following these crucial tips will help to minimise your chances of being caught up in a ransomware attack:

  • Install updates as they become available. Some are automatic, but for the most part, you can visit the manufacturer’s website to check if anything is available.
  • Install applications from reputable sources only.
  • Read the terms and conditions, ensuring that you don’t give administrative rights to any applications or software unless you’re 100% sure you know what you’re doing.
  • Make sure you have anti-virus software installed on all devices and that you keep them updated.