Two days after a massive ransomware attack hit more than 100 countries, the world is still reeling. Here’s what we know, and what we don’t know, about one of the largest ransomware offensives in history, and what you can do to protect yourself against future attacks.
The attack has affected more than 100,000 organizations in 150 countries—and counting.
According to reports, more than 200,000 people globally have been affected since the malware attack hit on Friday, and that number is expected to rise as organizations return to work this week.
Reports of the attack began with Spain’s largest telecomm, and then quickly spread to England’s National Health Service, where at least 16 hospitals were hit. Soon, facilities in Scotland reported that they were affected, and over the weekend, Russia’s Interior Ministry reported that its computers had also been compromised. Germany’s train operator Deutsche Bahn, universities in Asia and the global shipping company FedEx were also affected. The attack forced many hospitals in England to turn away patients and cancel surgeries.
Authorities are blaming the attack on hackers spreading malware called WannaCry.
This malware, allegedly stolen from the United States’ National Security Agency, exploits a Windows flaw that Microsoft patched in March. However, machines that haven’t been updated or patched are still vulnerable to the code, which encrypts all the computer’s files and then spreads. The malware is also known as WanaCryptor 2.0 and WCry.
Victims see a pop-up window telling them their files are encrypted and demanding $300 in bitcoin.
The message reads, “You can decrypt some of your files for free. But if you want to decrypt all your files, you need to pay. You only have 3 days to submit the payment. After that the price will be doubled.”
The window includes a clock counting down from seven days, when it says the files will be lost permanently. The message appears in various languages depending on the location of the system being attacked.
Authorities are still trying to find who’s behind the attack.
Some believe the cyber gang Shadow Brokers is responsible for the attack. However, this has not yet been confirmed.
“The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits,” Europol said in a statement.
What can you do to protect yourself against cyber attacks?
Cyber attacks may be on the rise, but you don’t have to be a victim. With a few simple steps, you can safeguard your important information now and for the future.
Check the address of emails
Avoid opening any emails form unknown sources. Double-check to ensure you know the originating address so that you don’t accidentally open the door to an attack.
Be wary of attachments in emails
Avoid opening or downloading any attachments unless you were expecting them or know the originating source.
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