Last Friday the world was victim to a vicious cyber attack. The virus would lock users out of their computers and files until the user paid them to turn it off. WannCrypt, also known as WannaCry, was an incredibly well-executed Ransomware attack that targeted not only ordinary people but large companies in more than 100 countries worldwide. More than over 130,000 endpoints have been infected.
But there was hope!
A 22-year old using the moniker “Malwaretech” was working with a sample of the code in a virtual environment when he discovered a killswitch. An unregistered domain within the code helped activate the Ransomware and infect the users. In an uncinematic conclusion, he registered the domain, redirecting the ransomware’s target to it, and getting tens of thousands of hits within minutes. In a matter of hours, peoples’ files and computers were unlocked.
How do we prevent another Cyberattack?
KEEP YOUR COMPUTER UPDATED - This cannot be stressed enough. By default, computers will select automatic updates. As inconvenient as these may be at times, they are vital to ensuring a computer’s safety and security. Mainly these updates are for patching exploits and vulnerabilities hackers use to gain access to your sensitive files.
DON’T CLICK SUSPICIOUS LIKS – Most malware gain entrance by a primitive, yet still very popular method: phishing. Email phishing is when a hacker sends a legitimate looking email, typically from a co-worker, executive, or even a financial institute; sometimes by means of “spoofing” their address. This makes the email appear to be coming from the actual person or place. If it comes from a business it may say something like “Click here to verify your account”. The link itself may say https://www.chase.com/account but will redirect to a site that will instantly download malware onto your machine. If you see a suspicious email, forward it your MSP or IT department right away so they can investigate.
HAVE DEFENSIVE SOFTWARE INSTALLED - The internet has a plethora of antivirus and malware scanners/cleaners. These are a necessity for not only companies but for personal use as well. A single attack like WannaCry can cripple a company as well as steal any saved information you may have on your computer (such as Amazon login, credit card cached info, etc.). If you work for a company that employs an MSP, ensure they are using an up-to-date protection software including firewalls and antivirus. If not, consider major names in the cyber security world such as McAfee and Norton.
Having great security software is necessary, but it’s also up to the individual users to ensure the safety and security of their PC's. Although not all viruses and malware are 100% preventable, taking precautionary steps will help ensure the security of your computer.