In today’s world of computer technology where all of our daily work is done on computers, cyber-attacks have become very common. These attacks have affected millions of computer systems worldwide and are continuing to do so. The terrifying thing about cyber attacks is that all your data can be stolen from you within a few clicks.
It’s heartbreaking to know that even after investing a heavy amount on cybersecurity, our computer systems are still not secure. Such attacks can not be stopped but can be avoided to an extent. In this article, we’ll tell you everything about the WannaCry Virus and how to avoid it.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is software that harms our computers, servers, and devices by blocking the screens and disabling the systems. It is named as Ransomware because the virus keeps the system paralyzed until the user agrees to pay the ransom. The ransom is displayed on the screen alert for the user to view.
Types of Ransomware
In encryption ransomware, the hacker uses some complex and advanced encryption algorithms that prevent the recovery and back up of data. The data that has been stored in the system fails to be accessed. Only the hacker has access to the algorithms. It can only be opened when the user pays the ransom after which the hacker decrypts the algorithms and allows the user access. Some of the examples of encrypted ransomware are Cryptolocker, Cryptowall, and Locky. The Locky Ransomeware locks out the user from their PC blocking their access to data and files.
That data and files are not encrypted in this case but some cases were still reported in which the data and sensitive material were lost even after paying the ransom. These include Winlocker or Police-Themed Ransomware.
Ransomware Infection and Behavior
A very major ransomware cyber-attack was reported in 2017 due to the WannaCry Virus that extended to Asia, Europe, America, and other continents of the world.
Ransomware gets downloaded very easily with a few clicks. Usually, a person receives a spam email containing a document. By clicking on the document, it activates the macros of the malicious document or if you unwantedly visit a malicious website. These documents and websites contain data and encryptions that are hidden and target our systems.
On clicking them, your system gets hijacked as well as your screen which displays the procedure to give the ransom.
How is Ransomware Spread?
There are many ways by which ransomware is spread. Let’s discuss some of the most common.
- Email: This is the most common way by which hackers spread Ransomware. Usually, an email is sent to the victim which contains a malicious attachment. The ransomware may develop immediately or may even take months depending on the hacker.
- URLs: Hackers sometimes use malicious URLs that are spread through social media. Clicking on the URL link downloads the ransomware into your system.
- Remote desktop protocol: Through this method, the hacker uses a network connection to connect to other computers. Once the connection has been established, the hacker can do whatever they want with your computer.
- Malvertising: Hackers purchase a space for ads that are linked with an exploit kit. The ad that is displayed can be an offer or a notification. When you click, it activates the exploit kit and takes over the system if it detects vulnerabilities.
- Drive-by downloads: Some downloads occur without your knowledge which is one of the ways by which ransomware is spread. When someone visits a malicious website, the malicious content searches for vulnerabilities, and then in the background of your computer, it downloads the ransomware.
What Does WannaCry Virus do to Your Computer?
This virus targets various types of files. Some of the files which the WannaCry virus targets are office document, database, archive files, and multimedia. When the files get affected, extensions are encrypted in the data and “WCRY” is added to the names of the files. The victims are unable to operate the system.
It includes a ransom note that is available in 27 languages. The initial demand is US300$ bitcoins but the amount increases after a certain time. Furthermore, the victim is given a period after which all the affected files are deleted. This tactic is an effective way to scare the victim.
10 Tips to Avoid WannaCry Virus
Once the WannaCry virus has taken over your computer there is nothing that you could do about it. But there are certain preventions that you can adopt to avoid the WannaCry virus. Let’s discuss the top 10 tips to avoid this virus.
The Operating System Should be Updated
One should utilize the latest service packs offered by Microsoft. If you update your operating system, it will be less likely to develop a virus. This happens because the WannaCry virus searches for vulnerabilities in the systems software. Defects in the software may allow the virus to take over your system and affect your files and data.
You should always keep data backup and replicate your data on daily bases. By doing this, even if you come across a cyber attack you will not lose your data because you can recover it anytime you want. Keeping backups will limit your data loss and in case it does happen, the loss would be a maximum of one day.
Use an OperatingSystem that is Less Susceptible to Viruses
The WannaCry Virus mainly affects computers using Microsoft Windows. Especially the older variant such as Vista and XP. But if you use an alternative operating system such as Linux or macOS, your computer system will be less exposed to this particular virus.
Get a Reliable Firewall
If you get caught up in a cyberattack, an ordinary firewall will facilitate the spread of the virus to other devices on your network. But a reliable firewall will not let that happen, it will block the virus and prevent the user from visiting malicious websites.
Use Antivirus Protection Software
Antivirus is the defender of the Window, so one should secure their computer systems with an antivirus that can filter out the harmful files and block spam messages. This software runs in the background of your computer and can detect and deactivate the malicious software that could be present on your computer. So you should at least have some sort of antivirus software to protect you against the WannaCry virus.
Don’t Lack on Social Media Security
You should keep your social media accounts private and only add the people you know. Furthermore, you should also avoid sharing your info with others or in a biography as it becomes easy for cybercriminals to know your phone number, addresses, and date of birth.
Don’t Open Spam Emails
The most common way for ransomware attacks is through emails. In case you receive a spam email you should first scan it with your antivirus software. Some premium antiviruses can scan spam emails such as Kaspersky Antivirus and BitDefender. Even if the email looks authorized, you should still not take the risk and scan it with your antivirus software.
Authorizerized email addresses will always have a business name after @ symbol. Some emails may ask you to reset your ID and Password so that the hacker could know your personal information.
Use Complex Passwords
Usually, people use a small and easy password so that they don’t forget. But to protect your PC from the WannaCry virus, you should use a complex password to protect your accounts. Also change your password after every month, not by adding a few characters but changing the password completely. That would keep the hacker busy in guessing and on the other hand, keep your data safe.
Train Your Workforce
If you are the owner of an organization and you want your data to be secure from cyber-attacks then you should train your workforce accordingly. This will help you minimize the data loss even if the hackers take over your system. The admins should limit the access of the employees as well.
Never Pay the Ransom
Usually what happens is that the victim panics on reading the ransom note and transfers the ransom amount to the e-wallets of the hacker. In some cases, the hacker demands more and in others, the hacker vanishes. But in both cases, the files of the victim are left unrestored and useless. The victim thus experiences two losses; (1) loss of data (2) loss of the ransom amount.
So you should never pay the ransom amount because there is no guarantee of data recovery.
Data loss can be very heartbreaking, years of data can be lost in a few seconds. Almost 150 countries worldwide are affected by the WannaCry virus and caused a loss of $4 billion. This proves that anyone can become a victim of a cyberattack anytime.
Now that you know the impact of the WannaCry Virus, it’s really important to take the above-mentioned measures seriously to avoid the WannaCry Virus. Neglection in this case may cost you your money as well as the loss of your data. These interventions may also protect you against many other types of viruses.