Today, a virus known as WannaCry has spread across the globe, affecting millions of computers. Most notably, several hospital systems in Europe are unable to provide care to their patients because their systems were affected by this virus. Unlike other ransomware attacks, this malware is able to search out other vulnerable computers on the local network and spread without human intervention. 

How do you prevent an attack? 

First, update your windows system to the most recent update available. Microsoft patched the vulnerability that this virus is exploiting months ago, but many users and organizations are slow to adopt updates.  Secondly, don’t open any email attachments for a while. Unfortunately, with so many systems affected world-wide, a high level of vigilance is required to prevent your computer from being infected. Wait until you have updated windows and updated your security software’s (antivirus) database. Then, you may proceed – but remember, “loose clicks sink ships.” Be wary of any unsolicited emails with attachments. 

What do you do if you are already infected? 

Unfortuantely, decrypting the files on your computer is not a realistic option. These encryption ransom bugs use powerful encryption that can’t be easily reversed. If you have a backup of your files, you will want to wipe your machine and do a fresh install of the operating system (OS). Be sure you update Windows to the most recent available set of updates as soon as possible before you restore your data or you will find yourself in the same situation. If you didn’t have a backup, your only other option is to pay the ransom. I highly advise against doing this unless there is no other option to recover vital files. Paying the hackers only encourages this horrible practice and finds their work to develop newer, more powerful worms. 

If you have any questions, want to learn more about how to keep your data safe, or need help with an infected machine, please contact Elliott for expert advice and help. 

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