Massive Ransomware attack hits worldwide; here’s how you can protect yourself.


It’s a scary world out there.  Technology plays a huge role in our day to day lives. Sometimes large issues will come to light, reminding us how important it is to protect our devices.

Thousands of people worldwide have been affected with ransomware,  in an attack so  massive that 14 hospitals in the UK have been shutdown, and the DHS has been shut down as well.    The attack began in the early afternoon yesterday, May 12th, causing systems to freeze and become encrypted, with a ransom demand of $300 in bitcoin appearing when employees and others tried to access their files.

The attack has also reached thousands of computers across 74 countries, including telecommunications company Telefonica.  Shipping company FedEx also got hit with the attack, and Russia was the hardest hit, with 1000 computers in the country’s Interior Ministry falling victim to the attack.

Here’s the information on the origins of the attack by The Verge:

According to researchers, the attack makes use of an exploit called EternalBlue, believed to have been be developed by the NSA to break through Windows security. EternalBlue was made public as part of a Shadow Brokers dump in April, and its code is widely available to anyone who downloaded the dump. Microsoft issued an update to protect against the vulnerability more than a month before the Shadow Brokers made it public, but the update didn’t make it to every Windows machine, and it’s plausible the systems targeted today were still unpatched. If so, the NSA’s research efforts could have indirectly contributed to some of the damage incurred on the hospitals.

A quick search of Wikipedia gives the definition of Ransomware as “type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid”.  Usually hackers will take ransom in the form of bitcoin, but ransom could be paid in actual money as well.  Like in this ransomware attack, it is not certain that the data will be decrypted after payment, which is why its extremely beneficial to protect yourself from ransomware attacks, that are unfortunately becoming more prevalent in these times.

Here’s some tips to keep in mind when protecting your data from ransomware attacks.

  1. Keep a backup of your data to a device that is not connected to the internet, like a flash drive, or an external hard drive.  Using backups to devices that are connected to the internet will sometimes become problematic due to the fact that the malware could make its way to the online backup.
  2. Do not click any links sent to you by people you don’t know.    Hackers, Scammers, and other generally awful people will use this method to get you unknowingly download malware onto your device.  No matter how urgent it sounds, or how amazing it will be to win that million dollars by clicking the link, do not click the link if its not from someone you know.
  3. Of course, general security measures will always help, like 2 factor authentication, secure passwords, and the like.  While it may not help you defend from this particular attack, it will help you from many different kinds of cyberattacks that you may encounter.
  4. PC Users:  Turn on Windows Update.  You may automatically become annoyed by the constant updates that your computer may have to endure by doing this, but you can also update important security patches and software that will protect you from ransomware.

This attack is on track to become one of the most dangerous cyber attacks ever.  While the attack may be affecting more businesses than individuals,  it is incredibly crucial to take caution and protect yourself from ransomware, or any other malicious cyberattacks.


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