The Information Technology is always at risk at the hands of hackers and malicious software creators. Wannacry Ransomware is one such recent threat that has turned the world upside down. Wannacry becomes a threat in view of the magnitude that it has hit the internet community globally. One of the most horrific events that affected the technology arena, Wannacry Ransomware has attacked millions of computers worldwide. Therefore, this article is an attempt at understanding the concepts behind the massive attack and tips on how to stay safe from such attacks in future.
What Is Ransomware?
Well, the word Ransom itself should provide a clue about what exactly such attacks tend to do. If you want to get rid of the attack, and get your computer back in the proper shape, you need to pay the ransom you are asked to pay.
By definition, a Ransomware is a type of cyber attack wherein a hacker takes control of your computer system and asks you to pay a ransom in order to get back the access. When your computer is affected with a ransomware, all your files will be encrypted using a special kind of coding. This would make you lose access to all the functionality on your device. So, you will get a pop up that would ask you to pay a ransom so that the files can be decrypted.
What is Wannacry Ransomware?
Wannacry is the recent ransomware that has affected several computers across the world. The malware is known by several other names like Wanna Decryptor, and Wcry, or even WannaCrpt.
The ransomware generally gains access to the victim’s computer by disguising itself as a legitimate software. There are several ways it can attack your computer. It can lure the users into clicking a link, or downloading a file that looks harmless. It blocks your access to all the files on the system and leaves you staring at only two files. One of them would be the instructions on what to do next and the second is the Wanna Decryptor itself.
Whenever you attempt to start your computer, you will be greeted with a pop up indicating that your computer has been affected and you will need to pay the specific amount of Ransom to get your files decrypted. The said ransom is to be paid in bitcoins, a popular online currency. Why bitcoin? Well, we will come to that later in the article.
How can you stay protected against the Wannacry Ransomware attack?
There are a few ways you can employ to steer clear of the possible attack. Following the precautions will help you stay safe. Thus, some of the precautions you can take include.
Take care of your Emails
Never ever open any suspicious looking emails. If the email appears to be originating from sources that are unknown, just go ahead and delete it. The most common path that a ransomware finds its way into your system is through email attachments. Do not click on any links in a suspicious looking email – no matter how lucrative it appears.
Be Cautious with your Internet Usage
The obnoxious looking free software can be hiding the monster behind it. It would be wiser to go for a paid software rather than being sorry later. The online PDF converters, photo editors and such other software tools from unknown or suspicious sources should be the first thing to avoid. Go with the known developers, and their official sites for downloading the files. Be wary of torrents and such third party sources for your media consumption.
Keep your Anti Virus solution updated
Make sure your Anti Virus software is up to date. And yes, ensure that you run it quite regularly. Your Anti Virus will not be practical if it does not provide you a real time protection. Running full scan of your system at least once in a week is one of the most important precautions you can take.Depending on how sensitive your data is, you may even want to look into finding and implementing next generation antivirus software for added security.
A few more ways to be safer
Take care of your financial data
Never ever keep your financial data on the hard drive of your system. If you tend to use the banking transactions online, go for incognito mode. You can keep your online banking credentials safe on reputed cloud services like DropBox or Google Drive. That way, you would ensure the safety of your financial data in an eventuality of your the ransomware affecting your system.
Let your Operating system be up to date
Keep checking for the latest updates available for your operating system. Microsoft, or any other software vendor keeps releasing periodical security patches to their operating systems. Never ever postpone applying these patches from time to time. Using automatic installation of security updates and patches would be the most wise decision.
Take regular backup of your data
Backups can save you from losing the important data in case the malware attacks your system. You can always completely erase your operating system and get the data back from the back up. Saving the back up on the cloud or any other storage medium would help you safe against the data loss.
What is the magnitude of the problem?
Well, the effect of the Wannacry attack has now faded and there are no instances of new attacks. However, that does not mean the thread has subdued.
As per the reports, Wannacry Ransomware has affected over 230,000 computers worlwide. What makes it worse is that the malware has no geographical boundaries. The attack was faced in over 150 countries across six continents. This figure itself should clearly indicate the magnitude of the issue.
The Wannacry Ransomware spread because of the vulnerability it found in the Microsoft Operating system. The fact that over 1.5 billion people worldwide use the Microsoft products should in itself should be a clear eye opener. Thus, being lenient with the software you are using can prove to be costly.
What to do if you are affected by Wannacry Ransomware?
In case the ransomware affects your system, we would advise you not to pay ransom. Why? Because the fact that you pay would encourage the attackers further. Moreover, that would mean more vigorous attacks of the similar nature in the future.
And even if you pay them – you cannot be assured of them fulfilling their promise. What if they demand more? Where is the guarantee that the attackers will decrypt all your files? How can you be sure that you will get the files back in intact form?
The best way would be to format your system, and get the file back from the backup. Therefore, that is exactly why we stressed the need for back ups in the above paragraphs. However, if you do not have a backup, do not fret. Several renowned Anti Virus solution providers and software developers have come up with other means of decrypting your files.
What is the Ransom Amount?
The attackers demand the ransom in US Dollars. But, they would insist you to pay in bitcoins. The amount normally demanded is between 0.3 to 1 bitcoin. They may also demand the payment in pounds. However, the mode of payment is always bitcoin.
Before we conclude, do you know why these hackers demand the ransom payment in bitcoins? The bitcoin is a popular digital currency. In fact, it is one of the popular one among the cyber criminals. That is solely because the bit coins are highly unregulated and decentralised. Thus, this makes them practically impossible trace them.
The Final Words
We hope we have imparted enough of information for your benefit. The attack has not remained as severe as it was initially. However, it has been successful in unleashing the terror in an unprecedented manner. One of the highlight of the Wannacry attack has been the huge number of machines it could affect within a shorter span of time. The sheer magnitude itself makes it a horrific attack in the history of technocrat society. Therefore, that is exactly the reason we have been egging on you to be safe by following some of the precautions we have enlisted in the main article.
Do you have any inputs to share with us with respect to the Wannacry Ransomware attack? If you know further ways on how to tackle the menace spread by the malware, we would welcome you to share your ideas with us. This would help the internet community at large to stay safe against any such attacks in the future. Do share your views in the comments here below.