By now, you’ve probably heard about the “WannaCry” or “WannaCryptor” virus. It was released Friday, May 12th and quickly spread to over 57000 machines in over 150 countries. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of “WannaCry” is that it’s still growing. Security analysts were able to discover a kill switch on Saturday; however, this has only slowed the spread – i.e. you are still as risk. “WannaCry” is being called the biggest ransomware outbreak the Internet has ever seen.
What is it?
- WannaCry is ransomware that infects machines through a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft is reporting as stolen from the US National Security Agency.
- The virus infects machines through spam emails so keep an eye out for social engineering scams in your emails and any other red flags!
- Once it infects your machine, “WannaCry” encrypts all your files and demands a ransom.
How to protect yourself?
- Update and install all your Windows security updates – or at least the updates discussed in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010. On Saturday, Microsoft issued updates for many operating systems – even those they stopped supporting years ago – including Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 8 – this patched the fix for SMBvi that WannaCry exploited.
- Update your antivirus to the most up to date real-time protection
What to do if you’re infected with WannaCry ransomware?
- Run a FixMeStick scan. FixMeStick can remove the virus even if you can’t get into Windows – just boot it through your boot menu. Unfortunately, FixMeStick will not be able to decrypt your files but the virus won’t be able to encrypt any more. You’re files will remain encrypted until either (a) you obtain a decryption key or (b) someone breaks the encryption algorithm so that no key is required. Cybersecurity experts are working hard to find a way to decrypt files – however currently there is no third-party decryption available.
Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, warns users that “WannaCry” should be interpreted as a “wake-up call”. In a world so dependent on computers, a software vulnerability like this has the potential to bring the world to a halt. Looking forward, we need to be aware and be extra careful. Regularly updating your antivirus software and running FixMeStick once a month is the only way to make sure your computer is clean. Don’t let a virus infection make you want to cry!