Saturday, May 13, 2017

WRITERS BEWARE! WannaCry Ransomware is on the prowl. BACK UP NOW!

Writers can sometimes be a funny breed - me included. Despite the fact I write fiction often incorporating some sort of personal trauma or disaster, despite the fact I also write business articles for tech companies and am aware of criminals ramping up malicious virus activities, I can sort of live in a bubble. 

Nothing bad is ever going to happen to me, is it? 

If you've not read the news today, you may be unaware of the following. Today, the world's press reports disturbing news. In the biggest attack of its kind in history, Ransomware criminals have launched malicious attacks across the globe.
  • ·         Almost 100 countries have been affected
  • ·         57,000 infections have already been detected
  • ·         IT systems have been shut down across the world
  • ·      In Ireland, my country of residence, the nation's health service is reported to have        shut down its entire IT infrastructure to avoid infection

The so-called WannaCry Ransomware virus is capable of locking up your computer and turning it to toast. If you’re infected you will no longer be able to access critical files. 

So you know that manuscript or screenplay you've spent the last year or more working on? You could lose it! You'll have to pay these criminals $1000 or more to get it  back.

Back up your important files and data now

Think about what you have on your laptop or tower PC. Your manuscripts, screenplays and other creative work, of course. But we all keep so much precious - and often irreplaceable - information and data on our hardware: financial information, Social Media files and graphics, photos, contact information - the list goes on and on.

As to your creative work: first of all, treat it as your most valuable asset. That is, it has an intrinsic value that may someday be realized in the market. If you lose it, you lose the potential monetary value, as well as those months and years of emotional toil.  And: can you imagine having to start writing your story all over again, from scratch, using only your memory as a backup tool? 

That's happened to me one time. I lost 30,000 words of a book I'd been working on. I want to make sure it never happens again. You should too.

If you're still not convinced, be aware of the following:

  • The frequency of ransomware, DDoS, and other malware attacks is up by a staggering 35 - 50 percent (depending on who you believe) year on year
  • Last year alone, over 1 billion records were compromised by such attacks
So what to do? Make sure you take periodic backups of all vital data.

Here's how

A number of different methods can be used to securely protect your data.

  1. Buy an external drive. Then simply backup your files manually to it. External hard drives are much safer than CDs. The only problem: make certain you unplug your hard drive following use. Otherwise it too could become infected if a virus strikes.
  2. Automatic backup - if you're a Windows user, most of their operating systems offer an automated backup process. You can then backup your data to a backup target of your choice. To find the backup process on your computer, type "backup" into Search Programs and Files. Click on "Backup and Restore" and go from there.
  3. Cloud backup - you can also backup your data to cloud-based infrastructure. Think Google Drive or Dropbox. For smaller Word documents or PDF files, this is a secure option that costs zero to implement.
  4. Do both - to make certain my data is protected, I backup everything weekly to an external drive. But I also manually backup selected files to cloud storage. What's nice too: because selected documents are in the cloud, I can access them from anywhere, at anytime, on almost any device.
So there you have it. A few ways to keep you - and those valuable creative works you've busted your gut on - safe.

If you haven't backed up recently, I hope you'll do it today. I certainly am!

If this blog interests you and you want to learn more about Ireland why not consider purchasing A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2017 Edition. Are you thinking about living and working in Ireland? Would you like to move to Ireland? Do you want to know how to get an Irish work visa in this country? Do you need to know how Brexit and Trump policies may affect your plans? If so, consider purchasing the 2017 edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland by Tom Richards. Now almost 90,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for  those interested in this wonderful country. Over 14,000 people have now learned how to live, laugh, and drink like the Irish by reading this Kindle ebook. I hope you enjoy, and my very best - Tom

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