The tech world plunged into chaos over the weekend when a deadly hacking virus attacked nearly 100 countries, drastically hitting Britain. The NHS (National Healthcare System) organization suffered the most as the computer systems of at least 16 of its divisions across England and Scotland have been badly affected, resulting in the closure of operations.
The malware also infected many other organizations across the globe, including the computer systems of Russia’s Interior Ministry, FedEx Corp a Leading international shipper company, Spain’s telecommunication company called Telefonica and a railway operator Deutsche Bahn company from Germany were some of the high-profile targets of – what’s called – the biggest Ransomware attack in history.
‘Ransomware’ type of Malware virus demands money in Bitcoin in exchange of returning the stolen or unlocking the blocked data. Hackers call this ransomware ‘WannaCry’, derived from its name ‘Wanna Decryptor 2.0’, believed to have affected the system via emails, using a technique called ‘phishing’ that tricks the user in opening the infectious file, letting it hijack the entire computing network.
As soon as the virus took over the system, a message from the hackers showed up on screen, “Ooops, your files have been encrypted! Many of your documents, photos, videos, databases and other files are no longer accessible because they have been encrypted. Maybe you are busy looking for a way to recover your files but do not waste your time. Nobody can recover your files without our decryption service.”
Furthermore, hackers initially set the time of 3 days for the submission of the payment which is demanded in Bitcoins. They threatened to double the ransom if it took more than 3 days to transfer the money, or worst, if the time surpassed the duration of 7 days, they will delete the files and make it impossible for anyone to recover them ever again.
It is suspected that the origin of this hack came from the National Security Agency (NSA), US Intelligence unit since a furtive group of hackers called “Shadow Brokers” claimed to have stolen a cyber-weapon of NSA last month. It was reported that a hacking tool known as ‘Eternal Blue’ was created by NSA to break into the computer systems of terrorist organizations.
However, the ‘Shadow Brokers’ after stealing the tool from NSA, unloaded it on a random website on April 14, from where it was picked by a separate hacker gang – the real culprit of this ransomware global attack.
As this Cyber-attack has gotten the authorities troubled, the security agencies and computer researchers are busy in tackling the issue, taking measures to prevent the virus from spreading further. A cyber security expert has claimed to have found a ‘kill switch’ that can interrupt the malware from processing ahead.
How to protect your system from hackers and malware?
According to Security experts, Microsoft is vulnerable to this kind of malware, but not for long as Microsoft will be sending an update in March for strengthening its protection service. However, people will have to install the updates arrived, otherwise the protection won’t work. As most of the people avoid updates and prefer to choose the old version, the complete protection from hackers and malware will be a tough nut to crack. However, you can use many other options to set up your system for maximum safety and protection.
Always Keep Your System Software up-to-date
The basic one is to first enable your windows updates and use the company’s free anti-virus software. Microsoft spokesperson assured that if only your system is up-to-date, you won’t be facing any trouble regarding viruses and hacking. Even the researcher tweeting from @MalwareTechBlog warned that people “need to update their systems ASAP” to prevent ‘WannaCry’ reaching them. “The crisis isn’t over, they can always change the code and try again.”
Beware Of Suspicious Emails
The easiest way for these viruses to penetrate into your systems is through emails. When you receive a suspicious email from an unknown nebulous source, you shouldn’t open at first and even if you do, do not open the links it has or download anything from that email, no matter how informative the content looks to you.
Check Security Settings
You should have your firewall on, which is the first barrier for any virus to infect your system, and an active anti-virus, which protects the system from unauthorized software carrying viruses like Trojan, keyloggers, etc.
These viruses not only slow down the speed of the computer but also harm files. Some deadly malware is developed to steal your personal information, in order to avert it, you must have an anti-spyware software that keeps the hackers away from your system. It also notifies if you’re subjected to a suspicious source online. Also, fortify your browser security settings as well which helps a lot.
Don’t Download Unauthorized Data
Free streaming of movies or your favorite shows might sound fun at first but you’re unaware of the risk it gets to your system. Hackers specifically use these sources to release malware into your systems. You must watch out even downloading songs, pictures or videos from unauthorized or suspicious websites.