Traders today totally rely on the software and data on their trading computers. Would you be able to operate your trading business if you were suddenly locked out of your trading laptop or desktop? For most traders, the answer is “No”.
Scammers and hackers are aware of these vulnerabilities. They know the information traders store on their personal and trading computers has immense operational value. So fraudsters are continuously inventing new ways to take your data hostage.
In general, malware that blocks access to your data is referred to as ransomware. Ransomware locks access to your files by encrypting them.
Once the malware has blocked you from accessing your data or operating system, the hackers send you a message demanding payment to decrypt the files.
Of course, these hackers are not only targeting traders. Large corporations and utilities are getting hit with ransomware. In 2018, the WannaCry ransomware created global chaos and almost paralyzed the British National Health Services (NHS).
How Ransomware Could Affect You
Imagine waking up one morning and finding your trading computer totally inaccessible.
Any files, folders, or research you saved on the computer will be beyond your reach. All your current local stop-loss settings, trading history, and trading software might be unreachable.
If you haven’t taken adequate back-up precautions, you might be out of luck. When the message pops up to pay the ransom (usually in bitcoin), you’ll have no alternative but to pay.
Don’t Be a Victim of Ransomware
Here are some precautions you can take to keep your trading computer and data safe from ransomware.
Make Regular Backups
A ransomware attack becomes little more than an annoying threat if you already have a backup of the critical information. You can’t be held hostage because you can transfer the data onto a new hard drive and start working again.
Yes, you will have to buy a new hard drive, but that’s way less expensive than paying the ransom.
Unfortunately, most traders don’t take this precaution.
Today there are no excuses. It’s easy to back up your data on various cloud-based services like Apple Cloud, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox.
In addition, there are low-cost back-up services that let you “set it and forget it.” Some, such as Backblaze and Carbonite, will overnight you a replacement hard drive with your data and software all ready to plug into a new computer and go.
Some traders prefer backing up to a local external hard drive rather than the cloud. That’s fine as long as you disconnect it when you aren’t making back-ups. If it’s connected to a computer during an attack, the files on the external drive will be encrypted as well.
If you back up your data at least daily, you’ll always have a safe way to restore your valuable information.
Stay Vigilant Against Phishing
Ransomware attacks are generally spread through phishing emails, texts, and social media posts. When you click on a malicious link, the ransomware gets downloaded to your computer.
Cultivate the habit of taking a moment to think before clicking on a link. If you avoid clicking on unnecessary links, the probability of infecting your trading computer decreases.
Update Your Hardware and Software
Always install the latest security updates on your trading computers and devices. The purpose of these updates is to protect you against the most recently discovered malware.
Scammers and hackers take advantage of open security vulnerabilities. So regular updates, designed to remove these vulnerabilities, can prevent a lot of ransomware attacks.
Disconnect Infected Devices
If any mobile device, desktop, or laptop suddenly displays a ransomware-type message, instantly disconnect the device from your network. Simply unplug the ethernet cord (if the device is wired) and/or disconnect via Control Panel.
Ransomware doesn’t stop at locking down one device; it also scans for other devices on the network to spread the infection. So if you disconnect your infected device from the network, the ransomware infection can’t spread any further.
Ransomware isn’t going away. And it poses a unique threat to your trading business. Avoid becoming the next victim with high-caliber, up-to-date hardware and software, along with maintaining other security best-practices.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250.
Photo by Arian Darvishi on Unsplash.