Over the weekend, a wave of cyber attacks spread around the globe in the form of a ransomware known as WannaCry. More than 200,000 computers in over 150 countries have been infected and targets include many important institutions such as health ministries, banks and telecommunication companies.
What is WannaCry and how does it work?
WannaCry is the nickname of the massive ransomware attack to hit businesses around the world today. Ransomware is a malicious program that locks up computers until the victim pays ransom. Once it infects your computer, it finds all your computer files, encrypts them or scrambles data and puts up a message on screen demanding the victim to pay to get their access back.
Hackers demand a ridiculous sum of money, usually in virtual currency as payment. If the ransom is not paid, they will wipe out all data forever. There’s also no assurance that they may give your access back after the ransom is paid. You can become a victim of ransomware by clicking on the wrong link or downloading infected files.
What makes the WannaCry ransomware so dangerous is that it “spreads like a worm”, meaning once one machine is infected, the entire internal network is scanned and other vulnerable machines are infected. The malware spread rapidly by exploiting a security vulnerability in Microsoft Windows servers. The threat is still not over as of this writing and it continues to plague thousands of companies victims worldwide.
Vodien’s Shared Hosting Clients Are Protected
Vodien would like to reassure all our shared hosting clients that our servers are not affected by this ransomware attack. Our servers run on Linux, and are hardened, so files cannot be executed at the root level by anyone else other than our system administrators. Vodien places security of the highest priority and we always look to innovate and implement security features to better secure our customers’ sites and emails.
What should you do to protect yourself?
Although your websites are safe from this attack, the WannaCry ransomware may evolve and may manifest in other forms, namely through phishing emails, leaving your personal computers still susceptible.
Here is a checklist to keep your personal computers safe from ransomware:
1. Update your Microsoft Windows Operating System
Since this wide-scale cyberattack was only possible because of a vulnerability in older Microsoft Windows Operating Systems (OS), the most important action to take is to update your Windows OS by installing the patches rolled out by Microsoft.
2. Install Anti-Virus Programs
Install anti-virus program like Avast, to detect any malicious files or programs in your computer. If you already have an anti-virus program installed, ensure that it is up to date and scan your computer regularly for any malicious programs.
Since the ransomware is transmitted through phishing emails containing the ransomware, users should take extra caution when clicking on links or downloading any forms of compressed or ZIP file attachments. It is best to independently verify the web address of the link that you are clicking on.
Schedule regular backups or have automated remote backups for your systems. Make sure you have backup copies not only on physical hard disks but in a virtual cloud as well, as the ransomware can affect hard disks too. Vodien offers cloud backup plans that will keep your mind at peace when such attack rises.
Best Defence is a Great Offence
This scary episode of cyber attack serves as a reminder that we should always be vigilant when cruising through the internet and to always be updated with the latest software patches and updates. One software patch might just be your savior to cyber extortion!