Last month, i.e May of 2017 will be remembered forever in history of cyber security. A ransomware named ‘WannaCry’ took the world by storm, Europe being the epicenter of this biggest cyber attack ever.
WannaCry aimed to attack systems through a vulnerability in Windows OS. It was first discovered by NSA and later was revealed by Shadow Brokers. In few initial hours, 200,000 systems were affected, including those of organizations like Renault and NHS.
What is a Ransomware?
Ransomware is an advance type of malware which blocks the victim from accessing his/her own system. It’s generally a piece of code which comes as an attachment in email in disguise. Once you click, it gets installed in your system and lock your access to it. To get back your access, you need to pay ransom to the hacker who has targeted your system.
The ransomware comes in 2 forms:
Encryptors: This type of ramsomware incorporates an advanced kind of algorithmic key to your system files. To get your access back you need a decryption key which will unblock the content of your system.
Lockers: Lockers lock down the operating system of the victim’s system. It means that you can’t boot your system once hacker has attacked your system with ‘locker’. Sometimes the locker is implemented at MBR (Master Boot Record). The hacker asks for ransom amount to unlock the system.
So how can you keep your system safe from ransomware attacks?
Here some of the tips you should follow to keep your system safe:
For local PC
- Don’t store important data only in My Documents and My PC
- Keep 2 backups of data, in an external drive and in cloud
- Open Google Drive / Dropbox / One Drive etc. Only once a day to upload and sync data and close them once done.
- Update your OS and other applications regularly along with security patches
- For daily use, use ‘user’ account with limited privilege instead of administrator account
- Turn off macros in MS Office suite and browser
- Remove plugins like Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java and silverlight when you don’t need them
- Adjust your browser’s security and private settings for maximum protection
- Remove outdated plugins which are not in use anymore
- Use ad blocker to resist malicious ads
- Never open mails from unknown sources. Mark them as spam
- Never download attachments from suspicious mails
- Never click links in suspicious mails
- Use reliable and branded anti-virus product which regularly gets updated automatically
- Use a good traffic filtering solution for pro active protection against ransomware
Prevention is better than cure. Follow the above tips, and surf online safely.