A massive ransomware cyberattack rolled out by hackers on May 12 has already racked up more than 200,000 victims across 150 countries. Are you vulnerable? Let’s find out.
What is WannaCry?
WannaCry is a malware that locks up a computer’s files and then threatens to delete all the data unless the user ponies up a ransom — in bitcoins — to unlock them, says CNBC.
Talos, a security research wing of networking giant Cisco, says the cyberattack’s lengthy list of victims includes high-profile targets like the Spanish telecommunications operator Telefonica, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom and FedEx in the U.S.
Who is at risk?
WannaCry affects computers with a Windows operating system. So if you use Windows, you could be at risk, says CNBC. The BBC says home users are “very unlikely to be affected” by WannaCry because “the vulnerable bit of Windows will either not be installed, or there will not be any other vulnerable computers on their home network.”
What should you do if WannaCry has infected your computer?
Although it might seem tempting to simply pay the demanded ransom so you can regain access to your computer files, experts say it’s important to remember that ponying up for ransom doesn’t ensure a fix for your impacted files. As the BBC explains:
It is probably best to assume that access to any files that were not backed up on a drive disconnected from your computer have now been lost forever.
How can you protect yourself?
According to USA Today:
“Patch your computers. They should have the latest software update. If not, update right away. Patched computers carry a much lower risk of being infected by malware or ransomware than those without an update.”
It’s also a good idea to ensure your anti-virus is up to date. In addition, make sure you back up your computer’s files. For more information, check out “5 Easy Steps to Keep Your Computer and Tech Safe in 2017.”
Microsoft says the cyberattack is a “wake-up call” for collective action against hackers.
“We need the tech sector, customers, and governments to work together to protect against cybersecurity attacks,” says Microsoft.
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