On Friday, the world experienced the wrath of a ransomware attack – likely the biggest we’ve ever seen, known as “WannaCry”. The cyber attack has plunged Britain’s health service into disarray, crippled Russian and Chinese private and public institutions, and shocked the rest of the world. The ransomware attack is also called WannaCrypt, WannaCry Decryptor, WannaCrypt0r 2.0, and other similar names.
Europol chief Rob Wainwright said that Friday’s WannaCry ransomware attack had affected more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries. With an infection of this scale, it will be difficult to get all of the systems patched and put an end to this for good. Some experts believe that WannaCry will likely be around for many years to come.
How WannaCry attacks?
WannaCry is a ransomware – a malicious software (malware) that encrypts data on your computer and then asks for payment in return for decryption. The ransomware was being combined with a worm application, allowing the infection of one computer to quickly spread across the networks.
In Singapore, we’ve had reports of WannaCry affecting Tiong Bahru Plaza’s digital directory service and an outlet at Orchard Central. Luckily, there were no sensitive information nor money that were given to the hackers, and the infected systems have been patched quickly.
CSA’s Director for the National Cyber Incident Response Centre, Dan Yock Hau said those affected should not pay the ransom as indicated in the malware message, as there’s no guarantee that their files can be recovered.
What to do if you’re affected?
Immediately disconnect any affected system so the malware will be unable to reach the command and control servers and to prevent further infection or transfer of data. You can also reach out to a professional for recovering your computer from virus or malware attacks.
How to protect your computer from cyber attacks?
Once a virus, Trojan, worm, or any other malicious code enters your computer, it’s really tricky to solve the problem as they can hide deep inside an infected system and sabotage any attempt to remove it.
Here are some steps you should do to prevent your computer from being hacked:
- UPDATE your system
The WannaCry exploits a vulnerability in Windows 8 and older operating systems that has been patched in March 2017. If you haven’t installed any security updates for a while, it’s time to hit that Check for Updates button (or simply turn on Automatic Updates).
- INSTALL the latest anti-virus and anti-malware
There’s a reason why these programs are recommended to install on your computers. Free antivirus generally does a pretty good job, but purchasing a license for paid antivirus or premium features for better system protection can be worth it.
- NEVER OPEN any suspicious attachment or email
There’s little relation to this case, opening malicious programs, or programs (.exe) masquerading as text or other files is still the main reason why your computer gets infected in the first place. Be sure to check the properties before opening any files you downloaded or copied from USB, even if you know the sender.