A massive ransomware attack that has affected more than 45,000 computers just occurred over the weekend. Here’s what you need to know, what to do if you’re server or desktop has been affected, and how to protect yourself from attacks like this in the future.
Ransomware using the malicious software named WannaCry (also known as WanaCrypt0r 2.0) exploited a vulnerability in Windows to encrypt a user’s data. After encrypting the data, demands were made for $300 or more. This exploits a vulnerability in Windows which was patched in March. Unfortunately, the vulnerability was still exploitable on older versions of windows such as Windows XP and on devices which haven’t been updated recently.
The malware itself uses email to spread to new devices and is specifically devastating to industries which rely on legacy systems.
Have You Been Affected? Here’s what to do:
If your device has been infected you’ll know immediately. You’ll find a popup screen saying something like “Ooops, your important files are encrypted.”
At this point, your most commonly used files and backups are all encrypted. Don’t worry though, there’s still a chance to avoid the $300+ payment. If you can, download and install Microsoft patch MS17-010. The patch is a special patch which works Windows systems all the way back to Vista.
How to Best Protect Your Data:
This attack is a perfect example of the need to perform updates to your devices software and operating systems often. Simply checking for and installing updates regularly (at least once a week) will drastically minimize the number of vulnerabilities on your server or desktop.
From there, you’ve got your other best practices security settings such as properly setting up a firewall, utilizing DDoS protection services, and more.
If you have an advanced understanding of technology you can also look into doing things such as server hardening, setting up encryption, and changing network settings around. If you aren’t that tech savvy, no worries, there are always pros who can help ensure your desktop, server and even mobile phones are as secure as possible!
Another important, and often overlooked step when it comes to protecting yourself from future attacks is simply staying on top of the latest cyber security news. By keeping up with recent developments and trends in the field, you’ll have a better understanding of what may be coming and how to prepare for it.