On IFLSG, we have mentioned the term “ransomware” a couple of times.

How it’s the fastest growing and earning cyber crime out there, and how millions are falling victim to it.

On Friday, May 12th, our e-world shook. In over 150 countries, more than 230 thousand computers were affected by Internet’s latest bad boy (and this isn’t your typical Hollywood “bad boy”, this one will literally make you cry).

WannaCry

WannaCry

Take a second to analyze the image above. This is an actual screenshot from a victim of WannaCry. This was first seen in the National Health Service hospitals in the UK, where 16 hospitals were affected.

What does it do?

If you’ve read our earlier posts, you’ll know that ransomware is essentially when the bad hackers manage to get a hold of your online information (this could be from a simple word document, to your entire system), and demand money from you if you want it back.

Can this happen to me?

If you have a Windows machine (computers/laptops), then most definitely. According to a report released by CNET, Microsoft released an update that protects users against this hack… In April. Unfortunately, no matter how much we evolve as humans, we still miss out on one simple rule: BACKING UP AND UPDATING SOFTWARE. The hackers took advantage of our laziness and now so many are suffering.

Luckily, for many, if you have iPhones, Android, or even Macs, you’re in the clear – for now.

What if it does happen to me?

You’re… well. We don’t really want to curse on this blog; but you know what we mean. There is currently no way out of this. There was actually a researcher who managed to find a “kill switch” that stopped WannaCry, but the hackers are already a few steps ahead of him.

wannacry 2.0

Will I HAVE to pay them?

Experts are trying their best to convince people to stop paying them – some sort of psychological tactic where they will lose their primary motivation (money). But we find this to be a horrible way to risk your important information, specially if you’re a major business! And, you don’t want to risk that amount being doubled, or your files being deleted.

Uh.. debit or credit?

Uh.. Neither.

Bitcoin – a digital currency. It doesn’t exist in the real world. There is a certain degree of privacy and anonymity when it comes to bitcoin. If you’re familiar with the dark/deep web, you’ll know that most of the online illegal transactions actually work exclusively with bitcoins, since it’s harder to trace back if things go wrong.

There are steps to getting bitcoins (bitcoin.org and download a “wallet”). 1 bitcoin is currently worth $1,875.97 US dollars, which is a lot of money. The average WannaCry attack has demanded $300 US dollars worth of bitcoins, so at least you’re not completely broke.

Of course.. Who’s to say they’ll actually give you your stuff back once you pay…

Who even created this #@$!%?&!!!!!

Apparently, NSA had this code on file just in case they’d ever have to use it for x y z reason. Much to their surprise (and regret #noragrets), a Russian hacker group known as Shadow Brokers, managed to obtain a cache of NSA documents, which included detailed information about this malware.

Okay. I’m safe for now – how can I keep it that way?

Woah! You’re asking all of the right questions today!

  • First and foremost, backup your system. All of it. If something does happen to you, you can be safe knowing you have it all right there with you to recover.
  • Update your software and keep everything up to date. Here’s this handy (–>) link (<–) for you.
  • This one should be a given – use antivirus software.
  • Do NOT download attachments from e-mails you do not recognize. Don’t even open those e-mails! ESPECIALLY if the attachments end in “.exe”, “.vbs”, or “.scr”.

 

Lastly, feel free to revisit any of our older posts about ransomware (you can find the links in the first paragraph of this article).

This thing is growing, and it’s growing fast. “It’s better to be safe, than sorry” has never made any more sense than it does now.