By now I’m sure all of you have heard of the WannaCry virus we’ve been dealing with the last few days. On Sunday of this week, word starting circulating around the world that a 22 year old accidental hero had detected the access point of the latest ransomeware attack and stopped it dead in its tracks. While the statement was true at the time it has since propagated itself into version 2 and is still running largely unchecked. I’m offering a few points here to help safeguard yourself from the infection.
- If you use Windows (and who doesn’t), you should install the patch that Microsoft released on March 14th that blocks the code the WannaCry ransomware is using. You can go to this page in the Microsoft Knowledge Base for instructions for how to do this.
- Please note that If you’re using an unsupported version of Windows like Windows XP, Windows 2008 or Server 2003, you’re at additional risk. At this point in time it’s never been more important to keep ALL your software (not just Windows) updated to a current supported version.
- If it’s not set to update automatically your Antivirus software definitions must be updated as well. All reputable anti-virus vendors have now added detection ability to block the WannaCry virus.
- If you have NO anti-virus software enabled on your Windows machine, there has never been a better time to do so. At the very least you should enable Windows Defender which is free.
- Backup regularly to an external hard drive or the cloud and make sure you backup often. That way, if you’re computer is infected with ransomware, it can’t encrypt your backups. The exception is if you leave your external hard drive connected to your Windows machine all the time, it will be infected as well so always disconnect after backups. Also I recommend keeping your external drive far away from your workstation like on the other side of the building or in a fire safe to further guard against fire and theft.
- If you have a website it’s very important to keep it and all related software up to date as well because viruses can and often do spread from websites to local computers. All reputable web developers stay alert and on track to update their products once a virus is detected. It’s very important to always use only well-known software on your website. Since the WannaCry outbreak I’ve seen a flurry of updates in the plugins used on the websites in my network and promptly implemented them on my server. It’s unknown at this time whether these updates were directly related to the WannaCry virus or something else. PLEASE NOTE: If I’m not currently hosting your website there’s a good chance that you’re responsible for your own security updates.
- ABOVE ALL: If you do become infected, keep in mind that thousands of people have already paid the relatively low ransom demands but there have been no reports of anyone actually getting their files unlocked. It’s always best to consult an IT specialist or a reputable web designer in your local area if your personal computer or website becomes infected with any sort of malware.