Wannacrypt Ransomware and How to Protect Yourself Against It
What is “RansomWare” exactly? Well it’s first and foremost a virus, but it’s different in that when it infects a computer it prevents users from accessing the operating system, or it encrypts all the data stored on the computer. You can then only access those files by paying some form of currency to get it unlocked. It essentially holds your data, at ransom, hence the name "RansomWare".
This is essentially what the “WannaCrypt” ransomware did. It infected thousands of computers. It disabled hospitals, business, and schools. Surgeries had to be put on hold because the virus had a hold on their equipment, for example. It’s a very serious attack and everyone should know how to keep themselves protected against this specific threat.
The simple solution to counter “WannaCrypt” is to just keep your computers up to date on patches that Microsoft releases. This ransomware attack was actually patched two months ago, protecting a lot of users from the attack, but there are a lot of older systems out there that have updating disabled, and they are getting infected and getting their files locked. This should be a wake-up call for businesses everywhere about how important it is to enforce patching updates on computers. For IT reasons having Windows Updates enabled can be a bit of a hassle, but in situations like this it makes it worth having.
Of course there are other ways to keep yourself safe in general when it comes to Ransomware:
- · Be careful not to click on harmful links in your emails
- · Be cautious of going to unsafe or unreliable websites
- · Never click on a link that you don’t recognize on a website or requests access to Facebook or messaging apps like WhatsApp and other programs
- · If you happen to receive a message from a friend that you’re not sure on, ask them for confirmation before opening it (infected machines will send messages out at random with harmful links)
- · Keep your files backed up regularly/periodically
- · Keep an eye out for fraudulent e-mail messages that use names similar to popular services like PayePal instead of the actual PayPal
- · Use a form of Antivirus and always make sure to have the most recent update
- · Make sure your Windows OS has the latest update
The “WannaCrypt” ransomware is being kept at bay for now, but if you follow these steps to protect yourself, you should be safe from getting your files locked. This should be a reminder to you that updating is important, it doesn’t have to happen every day, but it should not be forgotten.