The news this weekend shows how vulnerable computers and their networks can be, it also (in my opinion ofcourse) shows how reactive and sometimes rather silly people can be. Although news outlets seem very happy to report what has happened they don’t seem so happy to offer advice on how to prevent such attacks from damaging your files and folders!
Ransomware effectively locks all of your important files and folders asking for money to unlock your files. They will ask for payment in a currency called ‘Bitcoin’ Bitcoin is a criminals currency of choice as it is untraceable and therefore incredibly difficult to trace and prosecute any attacker. The reality ofcourse is that the attacker will be outside the EU and very hard to bring any legal proceedings against.
In many cases it is just not viable to make payment for the files and the only option is to factory reset your computer and ensure that the below steps are followed.
Ensure all of your computers are as upto date as possible. Microsoft are constantly rolling out security updates that will help protect you and your data from attacks. A few outlets have suggested that upto date computers would have mitigated the attack against the NHS in its entirety!
Anti Virus and firewall (With email scanning)
Good antivirus and firewall software is often completely forgotten about. People presume windows own security software is good enough but unfortunately as it is built into windows it’s also fairly easy from a baddies point of view to get around the security or even disable it altogether.
Software such as AVG Antivirus is free and paid versions which are still remarkably good value offer enhanced security such as email scanning which in case of these latest attacks would have stopped the issue altogether.
Clicking on links to websites in bad emails or even from social networks such as Facebook is the most common way of infecting a PC with a virus. Generally these emails are spoofs which try to look like your bank or offers which are far too good to be true examples could be – Win a free range rover here, Apple iPhone giveaway etc etc. Just don’t click on them! They will do you no good and you certainly will not be gaining any free stuff. I often hear people say ‘It can’t hurt to try’ unfortunately it really can and you need to stop this immediately!
If you look at the email address you have received the email from it is also easy to recognize a fake email for example rather than an email from HSBC.com it may be from NHSBC.com etc etc; Take time to look at these email addresses.
The simplest and most effective way to mitigate any form of attack is simply to ensure you regularly backup your important files. A USB memory stick will do the job just fine!