Wanna.Cry is the latest ransom-ware to infiltrated networks that, to this date, has effected over 99 countries. The way in which this piece of malware works is that it encrypts files and demands a ransom be paid (usually in Bitcoin because of its inability to be traced) in order to receive the decryption key and unlock critical files. Target files include database files, documents, photos, system files etc.
There were two types of operating systems that were affected; the first being users of Windows Vista, 7,8 and 10 that had not run the critical security patch released in March 2017 and second being older versions of Windows that no longer receive support such as XP and Server 2003. This file was distributed via email attachments and links to a malicious site allowing the file to be downloaded and infecting the computer.
Microsoft has released a security patch for its operating systems, including Windows XP from the following link:
There are several steps that you can take in order to protect yourself from this and any other malicious cyber attacks:
- Turn on automatic updates in Windows and install security updates, patches, hotfixes and service packs as they become available
- Use an anti-virus program and keep it updated with the latest virus and malware signatures in order to detect files and quarantine/erase them
- If you receive an email with an attachment or hyperlink to a site, verify that the email is genuine by contacting the sender. If this came from someone you know or even a bank, contact them to verify the validity of the email before opening it.
- Keep computer applications up to date. Many of the updates include fixes for security flaws that can allow hackers in
- Create backups and restore points in the event that this or any malicious files corrupt your OS. These restore points can revert your system back to the state prior to any infections.