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WannaCry Ransomware Is Creating Global Havoc and You Should Protect Your System Now
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WannaCry Ransomware Is Creating Global Havoc and You Should Protect Your System Now

On May 12, 2017, a massive cyber-attack started spreading globally, affecting hundreds of thousands of computers, including major government agencies such as National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, China's National Petroleum Corporation, and Renault factories in France. According to the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, or the Europol, the ransomware attack was unprecedented in scale.

The attack has been spread by multiple methods, including phishing emails and on unpatched systems as a computer worm affecting 230,000 computers in 150 countries. Experts are expecting a new wave of attack starting today,
the beginning of new work week. So here is everything you need to know about the WannaCry ransomware and what can you do to keep yourself safe.

What is a Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that carries out the cryptoviral extortion attack that blocks access to data until a ransom is paid and displays a message requesting payment to unlock it. Most of the ransomware encrypt the victim's files or even the full drive, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. The victims are often instructed to make the ransom payment through the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

What is WannaCry malware?

WannaCry malware is a ransomware program targeting Microsoft Windows. WannaCry is believed to have its origin from the EternalBlue exploit, which was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, the same agency Edward Snowden revealed us all about.

WannaCry exploits vulnerabilities in older Windows operating systems, especially Windows XP. Microsoft issued a patch for those systems running older versions of Windows on Friday, but that didn't stop it from causing the large scale casualty.

How bad is the global ransomware attack?

The attack on NHS affected many hospitals in England and Scotland, and up to 70,000 devices — including computers, MRI scanners, blood storage refrigerators and theater equipment. Other major organizations affected by the WannaCry ransomware attack includes Renault factory in France, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, Telefonica - one of the leading mobile network in Spain, Nissan, Saudi Telecom Company, FedEx and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In India, so far Andhra Police is the only organization affected by this ransomware attack .

How can you protect yourself?

First and foremost, you must always remain extremely careful while opening any email attachment from an unknown source. However, the scariest part about WannaCry is that it can reportedly spread over local networks without user interaction. Some government authorities such as the Government of Indonesia are recommending disconnection of unprotected machines from the Internet.

Secondly, you should have all files backed up in a completely separate system or external drive. Thus, even if you suffer an attack you won't lose any information.

Is there a fix?

Unfortunately, the answer is a big no. A researcher did find what can be called a kill switch, which prevented many new infections and allowed time to patch systems. Although this effectively slowed the spread of the malware, it was later reported that new versions that lack the kill switch were detected.

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