Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that typically encrypts or threatens to delete or harm data and other files on the infected computer unless a ransom is paid to the creator of the malware.
Over the last couple of weeks, a new ransomware attack called WannaCry has infected at least 200,000 computer systems in over 150 countries.
The WannaCry ransomware encrypts the data on the infected machine and presents a message to the user instructing them to send a payment of $300 in Bitcoin to recover their files.
The instructions state that if the payment is not made within 3 days, it will double to $600. And if not paid within 7 days, the files will be permanently lost.
According to most reports, victims who have paid the ransom did not receive any key or instructions to recover their data files. Therefore, experts are encouraging victims to not pay the ransom.
The WannaCry malware affects computers running the Windows operating system. 67% of infected machines are running the Windows 7 operating system. The rest are running both older and newer versions of Windows, including Vista, Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows 10.
At the present time, no method has been developed to decrypt the files once a machine has become infected. Prevention is the only key to avoiding damage by the WannaCry ransomware.
Here are 3 things you can do to help protect yourself from WannaCry.
First, check for and install Windows updates to get the latest security enhancements and bug fixes. A good article on how to do that can be found at: https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-check-for-install-windows-updates-2624596
Second, install a good anti-virus program on your system. Once installed, keep it up-to-date for the latest malware threats. PCMag.com has a very good article on some of the best free anti-virus and malware removal tools at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2388652,00.asp.
And third, back up your important files regularly to an external hard drive or cloud storage. Better yet, back them up to both. PCWorld.com has a very good article about backing up your hard drive at http://www.pcworld.com/article/2095481/storage/if-we-show-you-how-to-back-up-your-pc-for-free-will-you-finally-do-it.html
If you are a small business in the Memphis area and need any assistance or have any questions about malware prevention, removal or data backups or restoration, we would be happy to help any we can.