May 12th 2017 saw the biggest ever cyber attack in Internet history. A ransomware named WannaCry stormed through the web, with the damage epicenter being in Europe. The attack has been spreading since then as the the WannaCry software has locked thousands of computers in more than 150 countries. Users are confronted with a screen demanding a $300 payment to restore their files.
What is Ransomeware?
Ransomware stops you from using your PC. It holds your PC or files for “ransom”. Ransomware will demand that you pay money (a “ransom”) to get access to your PC or files. We have also seen them make you complete surveys.
There is no guarantee that paying the fine or doing what the ransomware tells you will give access to your PC or files again.
They can target any PC users, whether it’s a home computer, endpoints in an enterprise network, or servers used by a government agency or healthcare provider.
- Prevent you from accessing Windows.
- Encrypt files so you can’t use them.
- Stop certain apps from running (like your web browser).
Ransomware can get on your PC from nearly any source that any other malware (including viruses) can come from. This includes:
- Visiting unsafe, suspicious, or fake websites.
- Opening emails and email attachments from people you don’t know, or that you weren’t expecting.
- Clicking on malicious or bad links in emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media posts, instant messenger chats, like Skype.
It can be very difficult to restore your PC after a ransomware attack – especially if it’s infected by encryption ransomware.
But there is no reason for you to feel helpless. There are a lot of practical provisions you can take to block or limit the impact of cyber attacks on your data:
- Don’t click on a link on a webpage, in an email, or in a chat message unless you absolutely trust the page or sender. But remember that any account can be compromised.
- If you’re ever unsure – don’t click it!
- Often fake emails and webpages have bad spelling, or just look unusual. Look out for strange spellings of company names (like “PayePal” instead of “PayPal”) or unusual spaces, symbols, or punctuation (like “iTunesCustomer Service” instead of “iTunes Customer Service”).
- Back up your computer and store the safety version in the cloud or on a drive that is not connected to your computer.
- Use robust antivirus software.
- Keep all the software on your computer up-to-date. Enable automatic updates.
- Enable the “Show file extensions” option in the Windows settings on your computer. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files. Stay away from file extensions like “.exe,” “.vbs” and “.scr.”
- If you find a problem, disconnect your machine immediately from the Internet or other network connections (such as home Wi-Fi).