Since Friday, the proverbial cyber ICBM known as WannaCry has been encrypting and holding to ransom hundreds of thousands of computers all over the planet. This attack has no borders, and it’s target is seemingly anyone with a heart beat and a lazy $300 -$600 in Bitcoin to get it fixed – AND IT’S NOT STOPPING ANYTIME SOON.
It has shut down hospitals, airports, universities and government agencies. While your personal computer may not be that critical, I would not personally want to risk the infection and loss of data.
Here are some of the facts:
- It encrypts your files in a way that makes your computer un-usable
- It affects unsupported or un-updated versions of Windows (especially Windows XP , Vista, Windows 8, Server 2003 and 2008 Editions)
- Microsoft provided an update in March to prevent this attack. If you have an up to date version you may be ok.
- The software originated from the NSA in the united states (Mircosoft)
- The original version is dead – But many more variations are coming out.
How do you know you are infected?
Currently, the only 100% sure method to be sure, is when the ransomware appears on your screen and locks your computer up. Other than that, security organisations have not released any more details on the infection. It is suspected that it is spread extremely easily on a network.
What should I do?
Install malware/virus protection software and update your Windows operating system immediately.
I heard this ransomware has been neutralised… is this true?
Yes…kind of… On the weekend a security researcher discovered in the code a URL ‘kill switch’. After registering a special domain name and connecting it to a server, he activated it. The kill switch did its’ job perfectly. However, this is not the end to this ransomware story, new variations are already in the wild with NO kill switches – and they are spreading like wild fire.
— Darien Huss (@darienhuss) May 12, 2017
What should I do if I have a vulnerable system?
My best advice would be to quarantine those computers from any networks you are in, and do not use them again until a patch has been released for your device. Even as unpalatable as that may seems, the alternative of loosing all of your data may be a pain worth bearing.