48000 Ransomware Attacks till now – All You Need to know about Ransomware Attacks – How to Protect yourself from Ransomware Attacks, What is wannacry? The WannaCry ransomware attack has hit about 150 countries globally, including Russia and the US. In India.
What is Ransomware Attacks and its Effects?
Ransomware was the buzzword of the month as over 90 countries had basic government services affected due to a computer malware, commonly classified as Ransomware. Ransomware is a type of computer malware, similar to viruses, worms, trojans or adware. Last few years recorded an increasing number of ransomware attacks with companies and organizations losing both data and money because of it.
How does Ransomware Attacks work?
Ransomware usually encrypts the personal files on the computer using a randomly generated key. The personal files are then unavailable to the user, even though it resides on the user’s computer. The program then asks the user to pay some money, usually in bitcoins, to the person who has deployed the ransomware.
Ransomware attacks are generally targeted attacks. This means, just another average computer user who uses the internet is less prone to such attacks. Ransomware are used by cybercriminals to take the data of organizations and government agencies as “hostage” against which they demand a ransom.
The general public has also been exposed to ransomware before. Such cases mostly happen when the computer user visits shady sites on the internet, ignores warning messages from the browser or the computer security program, or simply uses a very outdated operating system.
What is WannaCry?
WannaCry or WannaCrypt or WannaCryptor is a ransomware that was developed by the American government agency – NSA. WannaCry was developed as a tool for espionage. It used a vulnerability that existed on older versions of Windows. This vulnerability had the codename “EternalBlue”. Microsoft was unaware of this issue.
The details regarding “EternalBlue” was leaked earlier this year by a group of hackers called “The Shadow Brokers”. Microsoft quickly patched the issue in most older versions of Windows. All versions from Windows XP to Windows 8 was affected. However, Windows XP, being no longer supported was not patched. Windows 10, was secured from the very beginning, and needed no patching. Microsoft, later, released an emergency update for Windows XP too, even though it is unsupported.
What made WannaCry such an effective Ransomware is that it was both a worm and a ransomware. A computer worm is a malware that spreads over computer networks, infecting systems. Therefore, all computers in an organization which were in the same network got affected. It locked all the user’s files and demanded 300USD to 600USD ransom.
Which Computers were Affected from Ransomware?
Windows 10 was not affected as it did not have the vulnerability. Older computers running on Windows XP to Windows 7 were mostly affected. Windows XP was released in 2001, whereas Windows 7 was released in 2009. However, most government organizations’ computers run Windows XP, 7 or so on and hence they were affected. Other organizations who were reluctant to upgrade their computer’s OS also got hit.
Worst hit countries included Russia, India, Ukraine, Taiwan, Britain and areas of Africa. Companies or organizations include Britain’s National Health Services, FedEx,Spain’s Telefónica, Deutsche Bahn, LATAM Airlines, and Nissan Motor in UK. These companies and organizations mostly were using older versions of Windows and were reluctant to upgrade. Versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8 that received the update were safe, but those computers that had Windows Update turned off were affected too.
What to do when attacked?
There is no tool yet to get back your files if you are affected by WannaCrypt. However, for most other ransomware, there are tools available that will decrypt your files for you. So, first, instead of paying to get your files back, search if there is a tool to get back your files.
Otherwise, it is recommended to format your system partition and reinstall the newest version of Windows. This will get your PC up and running, but you may lose your files.
How to prevent from Ransomware Attacks?
The very first step to securing files on your computer is to upgrade Windows and keep it updated. Connect to the internet regularly and update your OS. Windows Update keeps your PC patched and prevents viruses for getting in your PC. Windows 10 already comes with an anti-malware solution called Windows Defender that can prevent malware. Usually, it is enough for most people. However, if you want extra security, you should purchase a security suite instead of using free ones.
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Only good habits can keep your PC secure and working in good shape. These include avoiding unsecure websites, transferring sensitive information such as passwords over public Wi-Fi, and the most important of them all – regularly backing up files.