The WannaCry attack this year exposed some serious chinks in the armor of numerous organizations. More than 200,000 companies across 150 countries fell prey to this cyber onslaught, leaving others to wonder if they too were under risk. The truth is, almost everyone is susceptible to a ransomware attack. Unless you’ve taken serious precautions and adopted the best virus protection, you can become a victim. In order to do that, however, you must understand what ransomware is in the first place.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is software – a malicious one that infects a system and locks all the files on it. In order to unlock them, users must meet the monetary demands of the hacker. While ransomware attacks have happened before, the sheer magnitude and intensity of the WannaCry attacks made businesses sit up and take notice. What WannaCry did was exploit a problem with the Windows XP OS on computers and laptops. This prompted Microsoft, the parent company of Windows to release a fix for this security flaw soon after. However, the risks are far from over. Ransomware still remains an active threat, and according to cyber security groups around the world, it is only a matter of time before another assault takes place.
While it is true that you can never anticipate a ransomware attack, it is possible to prepare for it and that is exactly why you should consider serious virus protection.
Understanding the Warning Signs
Almost all the ransomware attacks occurred on systems that run Windows OS. So, if you or your business are in the habit of using Windows operating systems, the threat is quite real for you.
Common Methods of Protection
According to authorities in the UK and US, the right steps to take for deterring ransomware attacks are:
- Always ensure that your computer has the newest software updates with the help of Windows Update.
- Make sure the virus protection on your machine is updated. Scan your system for signs of malicious programs. You should also allow frequent auto-scans to prevent any mishaps.
- All data on your systems must be backed up so that you are not at a loss when your machine gets held for ransom.
- If you are a large organization, you must make sure that all incoming and outgoing emails are scanned to prevent the opening of malicious and harmful attachments.
- Alert your employees about the right virus protection measures, and make sure they are able to distinguish between regular emails, scams, and malicious links.
- Run a few “penetration tests” to check how your network security holds up in the event of a ransomware attack.
- Make sure any software you download is from a trusted source.
What to Do in Case You are Already Under Attack?
- Cybersecurity firms suggest that you should never give in to the demands of the hackers, because it would only encourage them. Plus, there is no guarantee that they will hand over your files in the first place.
- Get in touch with your local IT support professionals.
- Restore your data backups.
- Contact law enforcement and give all the details.