On Friday, May 12, 2017, hackers launched the WannaCry (WannaCrypt) ransomware that has infected over 200,000 Windows users. The global cyberattack has already reached 150 countries.
If infected, a device will lock up and display a message demanding $300 via Bitcoin — an online currency — to restore the encrypted files. The ransom would increase over time; if left unpaid the victim’s files would be locked indefinitely.
This ransomware attack has mostly affected business networks via a security flaw in the Windows operating system. Victims using computers with outdated security patches and targeted in phishing campaigns are especially at risk for the ransomware.
What should you do?
- Update your Windows computer with Microsoft’s recent security patch. Avoid future ransomware attacks by keeping your Windows security up-to-date. Download the latest Microsoft security patch.
- Back up your files regularly. Ransomware attacks can be easily handled if files are backed up regularly to a separate drive. Simply delete infected files and reload copies of the files onto your computer to avoid losing your valuable documents and information.
- Avoid suspicious links in emails. One successful way for hackers to transmit malicious software, like this ransomware, is through phishing emails. Find out if you have what it takes to spot a phishing email by taking our phishing email quiz!
How does it work?
Ransomware is nothing new. Hackers use ransomware to lock victims out of their files and demand ransom payments to release them. The WannaCry ransomware consists of three components:
- Infection via outdated Windows operating system or phishing email.
- $300 ransom demand to decrypt locked files.
- Ransom doubles after three days. Files are unavailable after seven days.
“This attack demonstrates the degree to which cybersecurity has become a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers.”
Since Friday, victims have paid a total of $38,000 toward ransom demands in connection to WannaCry. Track real-time ransom payments with Twitter user @Actual_Ransom to see how much victims are willing to pay for their encrypted files.
— actual ransom (@actual_ransom) May 15, 2017
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