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Ransomware What is it and how can it affect me


The recent ‘Wannacry’ Ransomware cyber attack has hit as many as 200,000 people.   It’s also reported in some areas in the UK to have brought the NHS to a ‘grinding halt’.

Spanning over 150 countries across the globe and with these numbers potentially increasing with a fresh wave of the attack, users, organisations and business are being warned to be vigilant and take precautions.

Security Experts have said that this is one of the worst and most widespread pieces of malware they have ever seen. Some hospitals and health organizations in the UK are even being forced to cancel patient appointments as a result. The NCA is working with organizations globally to combat the spread.

What is Ransomware?

Wannacry Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that is used frequently by internet hackers to capture information from unsuspecting victims, with the intention of extorting money or forcing people or organisations to behave in certain ways. Ransomware can be distributed via spam, fake emails and fake adverts which trick unsuspecting users into downloading the virus onto their computer or device.

Once your device is infected, the malware begins locking out users from one or more parts of their PC until the user pays to have accessed restored.

There are different types of malware including those which can steal your information or just erase your data.

Ransomware is different, in that it prevents you from accessing your device and your stored data – hiding it away or locking it up using encryption, then demanding a payment from the victim for access to be returned.

Should I just pay the ransom?

 No. Never.

There are no guarantees that the criminals behind Ransomware will unlock your files and there is often a risk that the criminals will come back for a second or third payment.

What can I do to protect myself or my organisation?

Users can always take more steps to better protect themselves from Ransomware and other forms of malware. There is no doubt that these types of attacks will increase, putting businesses and individuals at risk.

Simple steps you can take:

  • Keep a backup of personal and important files on an external hard drive, not connected to the Internet.
  • Only install apps from official app stores, such as Google’s Play Store, or Apple’s App Store. They offer better levels of protection than some third party stores.
  • Pay attention to emails you receive. Remember Cyber Criminals are using ever more clever and sophisticated ways to trick unsuspecting victims into clicking on Phishing emails.
  • Take care when visiting websites and clicking on advertisements – especially those asking you to download or install something on your computer.
  • If you use Windows XP ensure you update your system with the recent security patch from Microsoft.
  • Ensure your Antivirus product is up to date. Run a scan and always purchase Antivirus Software from a reputable vendor.

The Ransomware virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows XP software. A security update was released by Microsoft in March to protect against the virus. However it is suspected that many businesses and users may not have applied it. Microsoft has now sent out patches for Windows XP in an attempt to limit the damage.

Click here for more information on the security patch information:

If you are a victim of the Ransomware attack report it immediately to Action Fraud. Also keep an eye out for news on this here Action Fraud

Take care online


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Posted By Wayne Denner

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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