About a week ago, a ransomware program by the name WannaCry bolted from the blue and disrupted the whole of Europe and beyond. It had organizations and PC owners alike jump out of their own skin.
Like every other ransomware before it, WannaCry demands that the owner part of with some Bitcoin payments before getting their encrypted files unlocked or to stop it from spreading across the entire work if you use a networked system.
It is reported that about 200, 000 victims spread in 150 countries were hit by the ransomware with fears that the number could go up if the targets don’t stay on guard.
Windows OS Most Affected
Experts believe that the ransomware takes advantage of a security hole in older and unpatched Windows versions, including Windows XP. This did really get the attention of Microsoft and despite staying on for three years without adding any official support for XP, they finally released a security patch for the older system.
Before the attack, Andre Avanessian, the Vice President of Avecto, a security software company with global presence, did warn that cyberattacks mostly target hospitals for the reason that they hold a huge amount of valuable data. It’s believed that such data is extremely valuable than even stolen credit card data.
That explains why NHS England was among the most affected victims and experts point to outdated software as the possible gateway.
A new data from Kaspersky shows that an estimated 98% of all computers hit by the said malware were actually running the Windows 7 operating system. Even though Microsoft had released a patch earlier on in March to offer a protection against such attacks, those who hadn’t installed the patch were vulnerable to such attacks.
Staying Safe from WannaCry and other Cyber Attacks
What was clear from the report issued by Karspasky was that having a recent version of Windows alone isn’t enough to cushion you against such attacks. What really improves your safety against such attacks is the routine updating and patching.
Whether you are a business, an organization or just an individual, it’s recommended that you always carry out routine updates.
Microsoft did assure users of Windows 10 that their version is the only Windows version fully protected from WannaCry. However, the biggest breakthrough against WannaCry come on Friday. A recovery tool released by Matte Suiche, the co-founder of Comae technologies, a security firm, can decrypt your computer provided you haven’t rebooted it or the computer’s memory has not be overwritten.
The publicly available tool known as Wanakiwi decrypts PCs that run a complete suite of Windows 7 and XP and also other versions such as Vista, 2008, Server, and 2008 R2.
So far the tool has received validation from Europol which is EU’s law-enforcement agency and there are dozens of reports that the tool actually works.
Here’s the tool in action
Alternatively, you can keep yourself safe from such ransomare attacks by having a proper anti-virus system installed on your PC.