Just last week, the world was hit by the biggest ransomware attack in history. Known as WannaCry, WannaCrypt, WanaCrypt0r 2.0 and WCry, Thousands of organisations have been affected the British NHS, several Chinese private and public organisations and even the German railway suffered from the attack.Read more about this ransomware attack here
The attack has been brought under control, but it shows just how vulnerable we all are to a malware, virus or ransomware attack.
So, what is ransomware?
Ransomware is a piece of software which infects your computer or device via an attachment in something like an email. Once it is on your computer, it encrypts and locks all of your files and demands a ransom for their safe return.
You’re not able to do anything on your computer once it has been infected and your screen is hijacked by a countdown clock and the details for the ransom payment. If the countdown clock hits zero, your files are deleted and are almost certainly gone forever.
The payment you have to make is in BitCoin. BitCoin is a crypto currency which means that it is possible to trace where the money went to, but not who owns the account into which it went.
Ransomware gets onto your system and attacks your devices and network by exploiting weaknesses in your existing software or operating system, even if you have antivirus software installed.
How can I protect myself?
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from Ransomware.
- Make sure that your operating system and all of the software on your computer is up to date. Ransomware exploits weaknesses in operating systems and software in spread and infect computers.
- Don’t open emails from address you do not recognise or which you may think are suspicious. Sensationalist subject lines, New password requests or anything else which may seem unusual should be avoided.
- Always have a comprehensive backup of all of your data. The more you do business or store your information in the cloud, the better