May 14 2017 will be known as a day when the biggest cyber-attack ever known created havoc globally. The Wannacry ransomware attack lived up to its name by attacking over 1 million computer systems spanning around a hundred countries all over the world. The attack has been carried out by a cyber-extortionist group, Shadow Brokers who are believed to have stolen NSA cyber tools to carry out this massive malware attack.
Among various government organizations that got affected badly by these attacks, the National Health Service(NHS) of the UK is the biggest knockout. A total of forty-five NHS locations from Britain to Scotland are reportedly suffered due to this ransomware attack. This attacker group changes its codes and software names from time and time. This time it is the “Wannacry” ransomware program that has been encrypting the vital files in the computer systems and networks. To protect the computers from such ransomware attacks there are certain MUST DO tips you should apply immediately.
What is Ransomware and How Does it Work?
Ransomware is an advanced form of malware that blocks access to your vital data. After infecting a system, the cyber attackers extort ransom money from their victims to decrypt the files. Ransomware can block:
- Important files include your documents and media files by using an encryption algorithm.
- A complete operating system so that you are not able to access your desktop at all.
- Master Boot Record(MBR) and the user will not be able to boot the system (turn on the windows)
After your system is attacked by ransomware, a message will be displayed on your screen to pay the said money in bitcoins to unblock the files. They will also warn you to increase the ransom money in case the money is not paid in time.
Ransomware is usually spread through emails as attachment files. The attached file might be in form of some fake credit card bills, service invoices, free offers, job offers, or other security messages. Once the user opens such files, the malicious software embedded in the file infects documents and operating system files.
The recent Wannacry ransomware affected PC will show the files look like these.
Steps to Protect your System from Ransomware.
Most computer users use antivirus software to protect their systems from ever-rising threats from virus and malware attacks. Apart from installing a good anti-virus and anti-malware you also need to follow the following steps to protect your computers from ransomware.
- Update your windows operating system immediately. You can download the latest security patch from Microsoft that can provide your system the urgently needed ransomware protection.
- Do not open any suspicious email attachments or links. Avoid opening emails from unknown sources especially if it asks you to fill out some bank form or job form.
- Make sure the antivirus software installed on your computer is updated to the latest virus signatures. Carry out a complete system scan of your computer or laptop.
- Take a backup of your important data immediately on any external storage drive.
- If you have a network of computers, make sure robust data protection software is installed on every node of the network.
- Who can say no to freebies? No one. You must remember that nothing in this world comes without a tag, especially the much loved free software and tools. We need to be extra careful while downloading any freeware either an application, app, or tool. The attackers offer free tools, often containing hidden malicious code so that they find a path to steal your vital information or encrypt the files. In case you need some software urgently which is available as freeware you need to wait and do some research about that software. Read the reviews and ensure that it has verified publishers.
- Ensure that your Wi-Fi Network has a strong password. While choosing the wireless password, make sure that the password uses either WPA or WPA2 encryption.
- Check if your Windows automatic update is turned on. It is important since Microsoft releases its latest security patches and fixes in its newly updated files. It is imperative that your windows operating system gets updated as and when these patches are released. This is the best support you will get.
Start Ransomware Protection Now.
These are a few tips and tricks you need to follow in order to protect your valuable data from ransomware attacks. Do not procrastinate! A timely action at your end is the perfect solution for all the issues that you may face in case of an unexpected ransomware attack. You can help others by sharing this pertinent information with people in your contact and email lists and save them from unwanted distress.
Recommended Reading: Don’t Fall Victim to Data Breaches: How to Protect Business Data