Cyber-Attack: What is Ransomware and How Can Its Disastrous Effects Be Avoided?
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of cyber-attack whereby hackers take control of a computer system and block access until a ransom is a paid.
In order for cyber criminals to gain access to the system they need to download a type of malicious software onto the computer, this is usually done by getting the user to click on a link or download something by mistake.
Once the software is on a computer the hackers can launch an attack, locking all files one by one. They will usually then demand a payment in return for unlocking the files.
The recent cyber-attacks
The ransomware responsible for the recent cyber-attacks is known as ‘WannaCry.’ This particular ransomware leaves users with only two files; instructions on payment and the ransomware program itself.
This particular ransomware gives victims a few days to pay, warning that their files will otherwise be deleted.
Who is at risk?
WannaCry only infects machines running Windows operating systems. The most vulnerable systems being older and unsupported versions of Windows.
How can I protect myself?
You can protect yourself by ensuring your system is up to date, using firewalls and anti-virus software and by being wary when reading emails and opening attachments.
Be aware that there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will restore your files, so taking preventative measures is much safer. Back up your data regularly so that you can restore important files if you do become a victim of the attack.
Since the attack Windows have released security updates for several now unsupported versions of Windows, including Windows XP and Windows 8.