Published: Tue, May 23, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

How to Protect Yourself from 'Ransomware'

How to Protect Yourself from 'Ransomware'

Beginning on Friday, May 12, 2017, organizations across the world were hit by a cyberattack called WannaCry. Victims of the attack range in size-from Fortune 500 to small/medium-sized businesses-and industry-from academic institutions to large banks, health care providers, and transportation networks. Researchers who tracked the bitcoin addresses hardwired into the malware found that tens of thousands of dollars had been paid before the spread of the virus was halted by a cybersecurity expert who accidentally found a flaw in WannaCry. With the help of @Malware Technologies, most of the attack on Friday was contained. These civilian systems, however, will always lag behind, and that's why the NSA thinks old Windows vulnerabilities are worth hoarding.

Despite downplay of ransomware WannaCry's impact by the Centre; IT experts have cautioned users that the number of effected organizations is expected to rise rapidly.

Indian businesses, organisations and financial institutions largely escaped the impact of WannaCry malware attack, though India was the third most affected after Russian Federation and Ukraine. As a result, non-emergency operations were suspended and ambulances were being diverted to other hospitals.

The problem is that once those vulnerabilities become public, they can be used by others. Now, the question is, how to protect yourself from the WannaCry Ransomware. If a more recent version of Windows is running on the computer and it stays up-to-date, it should not be vulnerable to the current attack or WannaCry.

Many students reported seeing demands for ransoms pop up on their laptops as networks at universities across the country reported severe disruption. This exploit is not a fire drill and WannaCry is just the exploits payload.

It said it was set to sell access to previously undisclosed vulnerabilities, known as zero-days, that could be used to attack Microsoft Corp's MSFT.O latest software system, Windows 10. However, the NSA has neither confirmed nor denied this fact. So far, F-Secure hasn't provided more details.

Microsoft has recognized the risk cyber security poses to it since about 2002, when Bill Gates, the former chief executive, issued a call to arms inside the company after a wave of malicious software began infecting Windows PCs connected to the internet. As soon as he registered the domain, the ransomware appeared to stop spreading. But computers and networks that didn't update their systems remained at risk.

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The company acted quickly to produce a fix for versions of the software it no longer supports, such as Windows XP. "We can get rid of the attack but we cannot retrieve or restore the previous data if it is formatted".

Patching and System Updates. A lot of organisations and individuals in India still rely on the Windows XP. As a precaution, backups should be stored apart from your system, thereby insulating it from potential malware, and rendering it available for a system restoration when necessary. If you do so, Ransomware can enter into your computer.

User Vigilance and Training. The hackers are believed to have fooled victims into loading the ransomware by clicking on a fraudulent Internet link sent by email, a method known as phishing.

"So far we have not received anything".

The WannaCry attack provides another in a long series of "red flags". But it will improve intelligence services' accountability and, at the very least, force them to take better care of any dark stuff that comes into their hands. Vendors, such as Microsoft, release security patches from time to time.

Another route is to get a service that explicitly hunts down ransomware attacks.

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