BSDI Cyber Security Alert: THE Best Way To Stop Ransomware

Ugh.

Your friends want to do a Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race. At first, no one wants to go but once they get to the end its all smiles and feelings of accomplishment while dragging each other to the finish line.

The emphasis on these team obstacle races is acting and finishing as a TEAM. Whatever the activity, your team is only as strong as your weakest team member.

Imagine whistling your way to work on an ordinary Friday (TGIF!).

You boot up your PC, click <LATER> on the software update request that popped up, load your email and start plowing through the never-ending deluge of information and requests. A seemingly innocuous link in (what looks like) a reputable email gets clicked and <pow> a message hijacks your screen saying you have 23 hours and 59 minutes to make a payment of the equivalent of $200,000 in bitcoins or lose all the data on your computer.

Congratulations, you just became the equivalent of the out of shape human the rest of the team has to carry to the finish line.

Beginning around 8:43am on Friday, May 12th and continuing for hours, the WannaCry ransomware virus made this a reality for tens of thousands of computers in over 100 countries. It was one of the largest global ransomware attacks ever witnessed in the cyber community.

The more disruptive of attacks occurred across multiple clinics and hospital systems in Britain where, without access to patient files, ambulances were re-routed, surgeries postponed and patients were turned away.

Exactly what it sounds like, ransomware is a malicious virus disguised as invoices, security warnings and other legitimate-appearing files, which if clicked, then encrypts the data on your computer and demands cash payments to restore access. The number of cyber extortion cases is on the rise and is becoming an IT epidemic.

Once a single computer in your organization is hit by the WannaCry ransomware, the virus looks for other computers without the patch and infects them too. Not just on the local network, it scans Internet IP addresses to find and infect other vulnerable computers too.

Here’s the thing:

Microsoft knew about the weakness and released a patch to fix it (MS17-010) in March.

In fact, here is the statement put out by Microsoft the day of the attacks:

Today our engineers added detection and protection against new malicious software known as Ransom:Win32.WannaCrypt.

In March, we provided a security update which provides additional protections against this potential attack.

Those who are running our free antivirus software and have Windows updates enabled, are protected. We are working with customers to provide additional assistance.

Bottom line: If you downloaded the patch before the attacks, you were safe. If you did not, you were open to attack.

And thus the real reason why it spread so quickly: people didn’t patch.

When the little box popped up with “You have an update” they kept clicking INSTALL LATER but never did.

You are only as strong as your weakest team member.

If you are part of a larger organization that is part of a large network you are open to widespread devastation from malicious attacks.

If one person fails to keep up with the updates and clicks that phishing link, you are all susceptible. Once it starts moving across your infrastructure, a ransomware attack is close to impossible to stop.

You are only as strong as your weakest team member.

Don’t be the weak link on your team. Ransomware is serious business. Follow this advice to snub hackers, keep your team strong and smiling at the finish:

First: Patch your Windows machines and servers NOW.

This means when your computer tells you to update your software, there is probably a good reason for it. Do it. You can schedule it around a time you can be without your computer, but you have to actually do it to be protected.

Not sure how? Talk to your IT Department, they can help you.

In addition, if your anti-virus software is not installed, active or up to date, fix this now. Again, if you are unsure, talk to your IT Department.

 

Second: Never click on a link or document in your email unless you know where it comes from (and trust that source implicitly).

Stop and think before you click. Be very picky about what is allowed to be opened on your computer. Not sure what you’ve got in your inbox? Reach out to the sender and ask.

 

Third: keep your important files and documents safe by backing them up to an external storage device not constantly connected to your computer.

Not just once, create a routine for your backups and do it regularly. That way, if the virus does get through and you become locked out, you have nothing to worry about.

To beat hackers, you have to work together!

 

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