"Wannacry" Ransomeware and how to avoid it...

WannaCry is a so-called "crypto-ransomware" that encrypts and makes inaccessible all of the beloved pictures and documents on your computer. This particular ransomware is acquired by either clicking on a link or attachment in an e-mail, or being on the same network as an infected computer. Having an older or not currently-updated version of Windows also puts you at risk.

How it works

Ransomware attacks encrypt documents such as photos, videos, spreadsheets and presentations.

This attack holds users hostage by freezing their computers, popping up a red screen with the words, "Oops, your files have been encrypted" and demanding money in the form of an online bitcoin payment — $300 at first, possibly rising to $600 before it destroys files.

While "phishing" schemes that encourage users to open infected attachments often play a part in the spread of ransomware, the jury is still out in this case. It seems worm-like processes in which a tainted computer scans other computers in a network have helped increase the damage.

Microsoft released a patch in March for more recent versions of Windows, but those who didn't update, or those running versions older versions of Windows no longer actively supported, remained vulnerable.

The company issued a new patch for older Windows versions on May 12 after reports emerged of the far-ranging WannaCry attack, an unusual step. As a result Windows versions from XP onwards now have patches — though they must be applied for the protection to work.

How to avoid it

In terms of prevention, users should make sure operating system software is up to date, and having updates install automatically in the background is key. Anti-virus and anti-spyware tools are effective if Operating System software is updated.

As always, if you need help ensuring your computer is fully updated and secure...

Contact Matt any time. (519-505-4335)

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