WannaCry Ransomware Attack
WannaCry ransomware is an unprecedented malware attack that began sweeping the globe late last week. Security researchers estimated that nearly 57,000 computers in more than 150 countries were infected by the end of the day on Friday.
While the spread of this terrifying ransomware was slowed on Saturday, it was hardly stopped. As of Monday morning, more than 200,000 systems around the world are believed to have been infected.
WannaCry is far and away the most severe malware attack so far in 2017, and the spread of this troubling ransomware is far from over. In this post, we’ll tell you what WannaCry is, what developments we’ve seen over the past three days, and how to protect yourself.
What is WannaCry?
First and foremost, let’s clarify exactly what WannaCry is. This malware is a scary type of trojan virus called “ransomware.” As the name suggests, the virus in effect holds the infected computer hostage and demands that the victim pay a ransom in order to regain access to the files on his or her computer.
What exactly does WannaCry do?
RansomWare like WannaCry works by encrypting most or even all of the files on a user’s computer. Then, the software demands that a ransom be paid in order to have the files decrypted. In the case of WannaCry specifically, the software demands that the victim pays a ransom of $300 in bitcoins at the time of infection. If the user doesn’t pay the ransom without three days, the amount doubles to $600. After seven days without payment, WannaCry will delete all of the encrypted files and all data will be lost.
Is the attack over?
WannaCry was first discovered on Friday, May 12th, and it had spread to an estimated 57,000 computers in more than 150 different countries around the world by the end of the day. European countries were hit the hardest, and business ground to a halt at several large companies and organizations, including banks, hospitals, and government agencies.
On Saturday, a 22-year-old security researcher named Marcus Hutchins inadvertently slowed the spread of the WannaCry virus when he registered a domain name hidden within the virus’ code in an attempt to track the spread of WannaCry, unintentionally stopping its progress in the process. You can read Hutchins’ story in his blog post titled “How to Accidentally Stop a Global Cyber Attacks.”
Unfortunately, the spread of WannaCry wasn’t actually stopped, but instead slowed.
How can I protect myself from WannaCry?
Regardless of which operating system you run, you should install any and all available security updates immediately. Specifically, Windows users with machines that run Windows XP, Windows 8, or Windows Server 2003 should immediately install the security update released on Friday by Microsoft.
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