From malicious viruses that target mobile devices to malware that wants to destroy your computer system – the cyber threat is always looming on the neo-technological world. As long as you’ve picked up a newspaper or tuned into the news in the past couple of weeks, you must have at least heard of the massive ransomware attack named WannaCry.
Spread across more than 150 countries across the world and detected across more than 200,000 in just a few days of its discovery, WannaCry is the most compromising cyberattack of the year. Learn what WannaCry is capable of and how you can stay safe from this crippling ransomware right now.
What is WannaCry, and how was it created?
A Trojan virus is typically known as ransomware, which is designed to block user’s access to their system files until a sum of money is paid. Primarily infecting your computer and holding all of your data hostages, WannaCry forces you to pay a ransom to recover your files.
Although the WannaCry ransomware has sprung out of nowhere, security experts believe that we have the NSA to thank for this cyber disaster. The “EternalBlue” exploit discovered by the National Security Agency is being regarded as the foundation for the WannaCry trojan.
This exploit wasn’t disclosed to the security community as to help NSA with their agenda until the agency was forced to acknowledge it last month when Shadow Brokers, a group of hackers, publicly revealed the exploit.
How does WannaCry affect a computer?
After making its way to the host’s computer, the WannaCry ransomware begins encrypting all the files on the system. Once affected, the user has no access to their data and is prompted by software that demands them to pay up to decrypt their files.
Giving the victimized users three days to transfer $300 worth of Bitcoins to their account, they threaten to double the amount to $600 if not paid in time. Moreover, if you fail to make the payment within seven days, WannaCry will delete all of the encrypted files, and all of your data will be lost forever.
Targeting dozens of file types in the attack, this ransomware pretty much takes over all of your computers in a single sweep. All you can access is a text file set up by WannaCry on the desktop that gives you the following information on the attack:
Are we in the clear?
WannaCry continues to be a significant threat to computers and user data globally. Since it’s discovery on Friday, May 12th, WannaCry had spread across more than 57,000 networks in just a day. European countries have been reportedly hit severely by this ransomware attack, with the exploit making its way to several large organizations and even government agencies.
However, the risk of this ransomware spreading even rapidly was thwarted by Marcus Hutchins, a security researcher. By registering a new domain name with the WannaCry virus code embedded in it to track its spreading, Marcus inadvertently slowed down the progress.
However, the rapid spreading of the ransomware was only slowed down, not stopped.
How can I protect my computer against WannaCry?
You start by installing your computer system with the latest updates, regardless of the operating system and version. Microsoft has already released a security update to protect Windows users against the WannaCry ransomware for systems running Windows 8, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003.
My computer is affected by WannaCry – what can I do?
Unfortunately, there is no certified fix for WannaCry available yet, despite efforts being made to find a loophole. With antivirus companies hard at work and some third-party solutions like WannaKiwi that only partially work under exceptional circumstances, hopefully, there will be a final solution available soon.
Know more about the ransomware attack and the surveillance state click here.