Most of us have heard about the recent attack of a certain ransom-ware called “WannaCry” -thanks to the email Misr International University sent to its students- and how it’s been affecting the whole world. However, what is a ransom-ware? And what does it have to do with us? Let’s find out.
What is a ransom-ware?
A ransom-ware is a certain type of virus that encrypts your data or access to your computer until you pay them a Ransom via bitcoin (A.K.A internet money). It’s one of the cyber scamming methods that has been used globally for years.
How can a ransom-ware reach my computer? And how does it encrypt my files without me noticing?
Ransom-wares can reach your computer via downloading from unsafe links, or through email mostly. Other methods contain such as an infected disc or USB drive. After the installation of a ransom-ware, it starts to search for certain files to encrypt, progressing slowly, so it wouldn’t be detected, when the files are completely encrypted, the threat screen shows up in front of you, stating that your files are encrypted and that you need to pay in order to get the encryption key. However, you can still access your computer regularly and perform certain tasks. Although you can access your computer, there’s another type of ransom-ware that completely locks you out of your computer, denying full access to it.
So what’s going on? When did this exactly happen?
Ransom-wares have been there for a long time, as a matter of fact, the first ever ransom-ware was released in 1989, in floppy discs through mail. However, it failed due to many reasons, since back then, very few people had personal computers, and the concept of the world wide web wasn’t the mainstream, and the internet was only used by scientists as international payments were extremely harder.
However, such malicious software kept progressing throughout the years, and made the most recent attack that many of us have heard of.
How did WannaCry originate? And how do I protect myself from it?
WannaCry is a cryptoransomware, originally called Wanna decryptor. It encrypts the files and data of computers through a flaw found in Microsoft by the national security of America, and leaked by the hackers. And it has been infecting the whole world. More than 45 thousand attacks have been registered in about 74 countries, and mostly Russia.
1. Back up your files.
Keep a copy of your important files away from your computer, either on a USB or a hard drive, basically somewhere away from the internet or any infected computer.
2. Don’t open emails that you don’t know any sources of, or visit suspicious websites
If you receive an email with an attachment or a link that you basically don’t know anything about, delete it. Don’t even think twice about opening it. And keep your browsing habits to websites that you trust and know that they don’t carry any methods that might infect your PC.
3. If you find a USB or a disc somewhere, don’t plug them into your PC
This may seem surprising, but a lot of people do it, specially if they want to find any personal data concerning the USB owner to give it back, however, because of current situations, don’t think about doing so.
4. Keep your PC updated
5. Install an antivirus
Buy an antivirus and install it on your PC, to ensure maximum safety against not just WannaCry, but mainly against any malicious software that’s out there to harm your data.
Last but not least, never pay the ransom! It will only encourage the hackers and it doesn’t guarantee your files back!