A Hack-For-Ransom Attack: How to Prevent an Attack

wannacry

WANNA CRY?

Cryptowall Ransomware is a malicious software that locks your computer files using a ransom cryptolocker until a ransom payment is received by cyber attackers. This attack is not new but it is the latest trend in cyber attacks.

This kind of ransomware has been making the rounds in the worldwide news these days. It is internationally known as WannaCry or WannaCrpyt and is said to be the biggest and baddest cyber attack in history today. The number of victims is believed to reach over 200,000 in about 150 countries worldwide as of this writing. Many huge companies and businesses have been hit including hospitals, telecoms, government facilities, delivery firms, entertainment and many others. Victims are asked to pay a ransom of $300 in order to retrieve their encrypted files. Despite many Cyber Security experts’ advice not to pay, there would be some companies who still settled to make a payment which reportedly made over $40,000 in total. But not only in simple cash, they demanded payment in Bitcoin.

AM I AT RISK?

Windows operating systems especially the older ones such as XP are the primary target of WannaCry according to reports. You could be at risk if you are a Windows user and if your operating system is not updated. If you are not careful enough to open and read your emails especially email attachments, you could also be at risk. Bear in mind that before you click on any link and attachment in your email, make sure you know where the email is coming from and you trust the source.

You may say, "I’m using Linux operating system so I’m safe". No, you’re not! Every operating system could be attacked. Attackers only tend to target Windows and Android operating systems because they are widely used than Linux.

Home users, though, are very unlikely affected because WannaCry has been spreading around business networks through vulnerabilities in Windows which most home users are not at risk since there should be no other vulnerable computers on home network.

Nevertheless, we can never be sure! Just make sure your Windows operating system is always up to date.

HOW DOES THE ATTACK SPREAD?

WannaCry is believed to be spreading via a malware known as “worm” that mostly comes along with emails like attachments or a given link inside the email message. We should also be careful of unknown links we receive or see online including interesting posts in social media with suspicious links. At a time like this, we must follow the golden rule of this era: Think first before you click!

"Worm" is a malicious program that has the ability to spread by itself. Unlike many other types of malware, it uses a trigger in order to infect your device. Once this worm is inside one of the network's computer, it will hunt down all other vulnerable devices and infect them too.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM THIS ATTACK?

1. Backup your files.

It is always a best practice to backup your files regularly. We never know when we will encounter computer system issues and/or get infected by computer virus. You can search the internet for online backup services. There are some free solutions with limited features but premium ones can give you more benefits. It is worth spending a few $$$ for the premium one.

2. Make sure your operating system is up-to-date.

As mentioned above, WannaCry’s primary target are Windows users but Linux users should make sure they are up-to-date too.

3. Use an updated premium Anti-virus.

It’s a common knowledge that free always comes with less.  So go for the premium and put your $$$ in the right place.

4. Avoid clicking untrusted links.

You might have seen some very interesting posts somewhere online, social media and/or email. Don’t just trust them right away. Make it a habit to investigate the source of the link first before you click.

5. Use a pop-up blocker in your browser.

This prevents any suspicious links or URLs from opening and this gives you time to select your trusted links and block the untrusted ones.

SUMMARY:

Everyone is vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks.  Remember to keep yourself protected:

  1. Backup your files.
  2. Make sure your operating system is up-to-date.
  3. Use an updated premium Anti-virus.
  4. Avoid clicking untrusted links.
  5. Use a pop-up blocker in your browser.

CONCLUSION

Whoever is behind WannaCry is a cyber criminal. Who would want to deal with criminals? How can you be so sure of an honest transaction with criminals? How can you be 100% sure that you can retrieve your files after you make a payment? These are some of the questions you can ask yourself if you happen to be a victim of this ransomware attack. The bottom-line is, don’t compromise, DON’T PAY!

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