Recently, the news of malicious software named WannaCry ransomware made a stir in the digital arena over the globe. The attack by hijackers affected over 200,000 people over the globe.
Ransomware generally operates via email and web pop-ups where the people's documents and files are locked by the hackers and the users are asked to pay money to get access to the files. In this case, the victims were asked to transfer $300 to any of the three bitcoin addresses mentioned while failing to do so in three days would double up the amount. Further, if the payment was not made then the users were threatened that their files would be deleted permanently.
Experts working on the cyber-attack have expressed a possible North Korean link, although no firm location of origin has been determined yet. The targeted users were mostly larger institutions like academic institutions, businesses, and hospitals.
Although the cyber-attack has been keeping experts busy tracking the whereabouts and the loss that individuals and businesses are facing, some have opined that the massive effect could have been avoided through some simple measures. Here are some of the tips which could help you protect from these kind of cyberattacks in future.
- WHAT IF YOU ARE ALREADY INFECTED BY A RANSOMWARE
This might be really helpful for those who are already a victim of the current cyberattack. Experts have suggested that when a user's computer is infected by a ransomware, they should first of all, disconnect their computer from the web network so that other machines connected to it are not affected. Although there is no such security measure which would ensure the retrieval of your file, one should report the incidents to law enforcement in order to keep a record and then ask for help from professionals who deal with data recovery.
Although the option of payment might seem like an easier way out since your important files are at stake, but sometimes, one might not get their files back even after paying up the amount.
- DO NOT SUCCUMB TO EMAILS AND POP-UPS WHICH SEEM SUSPICIOUS
Ransomwares generally operate via e-mails and web pop-ups and hence one needs to be really careful while dealing with these. Pop-ups have increasingly become an easy way to both advertise and to hack into computers, the malicious pop-ups which direct you to websites which contain programs which enable a hacker to hack into your computer. One should steer clear of such pop-ups and restart their windows if they have mistakenly clicked on it.
Suspicious e-mails, on the other hand, are easy to identify. Looking for legitimate e-mail addresses, grammatical mistakes in the body of the mail can facilitate you with information on whether they are malicious. If there are links embedded in the mail, then make sure that they are legitimate ones which do not direct you to websites which might be harmful. Important mails from financial institutions like banks should also be carefully reviewed. Legitimate mails from banks would never ask you for personal information about passwords and user ID, if they do steer clear of such mails.
- KEEP YOUR SOFTWARE UPTO-DATE
The WannaCry ransomwire presents an interesting case as to why one should always keep their OS upto-date. Eight weeks ago, Microsoft, the maker of Windows, had apparently released a patch which could have avoided the WannaCry vulnerability of the users. If the affected users would have updated their windows then they would not have fallen prey to the ransomware.
Although, WannaCry only affected Windows users, there might be chances that other operating systems like Mac or Linux can also be affected by future ransomwares. Therefore, no matter what OS you are using, it is always a safer choice to configure it to automatically install the software updates that are being offered to keep it protected and fast.
Anti-viruses are known for protecting systems from malware attacks which is why one needs to install them. But, only keeping the anti-virus would not ensure safety and security. One also needs to update their anti-virus like the system to keep it aware of the latest threats and block them from entering the system. Reputed anti-virus softwares like Kaspersky, Norton are known to keep the system safe.
- BACKING UP DATA
It is always a safer choice to keep a copy of important documents and files in a hard drive which you can access in case of such cyber attacks. This would ensure that you do not succumb to ransom demands in hope of not losing important data.
Moreover, if your system is hacked, keeping a back up might help restore the data after formatting the system to get rid of the security risks.
- BUSINESSES NEED PLANS WHICH WOULD SECURE ALL THE COMPUTERS
When it comes to business, the risk is more since one infected computer might affect all the others connected to it, as in the case of businesses and offices. So, ensuring that every system in the office has updated systems and anti-viruses is a must.
Scheduled interventions by professionals to educate employees about possible risks and suspicious emails would also ensure safety of the business as a whole.