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The WannaCry Ransomware Virus: What You Need to Know

May 17, 2017, 22:53 PM by Trenton Baker

Is Your Data Secure?

The recent ransomware attack labeled “WannaCry,” or “WannaCrypt,” is now being called one of the worst and most widespread pieces of malware ever seen by security experts, according to CNN.

The virus has already caused some UK hospitals to cancel outpatient appointments, while close to 30,000 institutions in China as well as global firms such as Fedex also report being infected.

Cybersecurity researchers indicate the virus is supported by some of the same code used in the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures, raising the possibility that the hackers have a connection to North Korea. 

So far most attacks have occurred in Taiwan, Ukraine, and Russia, according to cybersecurity firm Avast.

The ransomware works by locking all the files on infected computers and servers, and demanding $300 in bitcoin in order for users to regain control.

U.S. Homeland Security reports that only about $60,000 (US) has been paid in ransom thus far – an indication that the hackers are relatively unsophisticated; however, no evidence yet exists that any payment has led to data recovery, suggesting they are simply absconding with the money.

Researchers from across the world now report more than 300,000 computer and server infections in approximately 150 countries.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the virus exploits a vulnerability in the Windows operating system first developed by the US National Security Agency and later revealed to the world by hackers who stole the information from the NSA.

Groups as disparate as Microsoft executives and Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose Interior Ministry has been reported to be a victim of the attack, have therefore blamed the U.S. government for creating the ransomware virus.

The virus is spread through a vulnerability in the Windows OS known as “Eternal Blue,” for which Microsoft released a patch last month but computers not updated with the patch remain vulnerable to the virus as it travels the Internet searching for hosts. 

As of this writing, the virus is still spreading, though it has slowed considerably as users hasten to install the Microsoft update patching the vulnerability.

Are You At Risk?

The WannaCry virus is particularly insidious since it means users don’t need to click on a phishing email to get infected. It’s not just a virus, it is also a worm. WannaCry can simply slip into your Windows PC or server through the unpatched gap in your Microsoft OS.

The National Cyber Security Centre has created this guide on how to deploy the latest security patch.

Particularly vulnerable are computer networks such as those found in schools, hospitals, and businesses. Security researchers say the ransomware is spread through standard file-sharing technology used by PCs called Microsoft Windows Server Message Block.

How to Protect Your Business 

Presently, the only known way to protect against the WannaCry virus is to download the latest Windows software update to install the patch. Additionally:

•  Be sure you’re running anti-virus software.
•  Implement an off-site backup and recovery solution for critical data.
•  Filter for .exe attachments in emails.
•  Encrypt sensitive data.

For more information about thwarting ransomware attacks review our Ransomware Infographic below and check out our Ransomware Whitepaper as well as contacting a KeepItSafe ransomware expert today by calling 888 965 9988 or by requesting a data security review.


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