5 Tips to Protect Yourself from WannaCry Ransomware​

With the recent WannaCry Ransomware attack and many people being hit by other types of malicious Ransomware attacks and viruses, our online security can often feel under attack.

What can you do to protect yourself from falling victim to it?

Our Bel Air Internet engineering team breaks down how these attacks work and the best ways to protect yourself:

How The Recent Threats Work

These attacks work by infiltrating your computer and immediately encrypting all your files – either ruining them or effectively holding them “hostage”. Once you are hit by this virus your files are encrypted and can only be unencrypted if you pay the cyber-criminal and then they will provide you with the private key.

One of the most common ways companies and people have gotten hit by these viruses is through emails in which they’re asked to open an important attached word document (for example: Invoice or Package Delivery). Once opened, it executes malicious code that encrypts local and networked hard drives and demands a ransom payment to unlock your data.

It’s not always through email, though. The recent WannaCry Ransomware attacked users in over 100 countries by using an NSA Windows Exploit to spread and encrypt all systems on a network. In March 2017, Microsoft released a software update to address this security issue that would prevent this Virus from spreading throughout the initial system. However, many users did not perform the update and thus, found themselves vulnerable simply by using their computer.

There are ways to be proactive about your online and computer security, though.

Here’s our Top 5 Tips to keep your files safe:

1. OUR TOP TIP…Backup all your files regularly.
Backup your data regularly and keep a copy of the backup in the Cloud or on a detached External Hard Drive. That way, if your files are attacked and encrypted you can still easily restore them from backup. Some programs like Dropbox automatically sync your documents to the Cloud for a seamless backup that’s always up to date.

2. Keep your Software and Operating System Updated.
As seen with the WannaCry Ransomware attack, regularly updating all your software can be the difference between becoming a victim or not. It’s also important to use an updated Operating System that is currently supported by the software provider – supported software always gets priority when new exploits are discovered.

3. Don’t open attachments you’re not sure of.
Never open e-mails or their attachments from unknown recipients – and sometimes even “known” recipients. These hackers can often put in names of your own acquaintances or companies you’ve corresponded with in the past. If you receive an email from a company (like Amazon) about your “invoice” or upcoming “package delivery” asking you to click on an attachment, do no click. Go to the company’s website to verify. Likewise, if the email comes from someone you know, but you’re not expecting an e-mail from them with an attachment, call them before opening.

Malicious e-mail example:

4. Invest in an Anti-Virus Program.
Run an Anti-Virus Program and always keep the virus definitions up to date – this will protect you from exploits that have yet to be patched.

5. Surf safely.
Never visit questionable websites, for example BitTorrent. The best way to avoid questionable websites is with an anti-virus program that scans in real-time links and URLs, such as Malwarebytes.

We’ve included an example of an e-mail to be on the look-out for below.

Stay safe out there!

Malicious e-mail example:

Good morning,

Please see the attached invoice and remit payment according to the terms listed at the bottom of the invoice. If you have any questions please let us know.

Thank you!
[redacted name]
Accounting Specialist