Imagine a hooded stranger stealing financial or personal information from your computer or mobile phone. And worse still, he demands an exorbitant amount as ransom to give you access to your own data. Such looting and extorting is exactly what WannaCry Ransomware virus does!
Several corporations, hospitals, schools and individuals have succumbed to this malware attack. They have paid money upto $ 40,000 to retrieve their files. But only 42% of them have partially recovered their stolen information.
So how do you protect yourself from this cryptoviral extortion attack?
DonÔÇÖt open phishing emails
Statistics show that 97% of Ransomware are circulated and delivered by phishing emails, which are fraudulent emails appearing to come from legitimate sources. So refrain from clicking on any link you see. First hover your mouse, or tap and hold on each message link to view the actual URL. Check whether the hover-text link matches with the link you usually transact on. If no, then delete the message and never access it again. Also remember not to open any attachment with the extension ÔÇÿ.exeÔÇÖ or ÔÇÿ.jsÔÇÖ. Or youÔÇÖll have to risk downloading the Ransomware without your knowledge.
Back up your files
The biggest loss people succumb to during these attacks, is not having access to important pictures, files and documents that may be personal or professional. Create backups of critical financial, professional and personal data on separate hard drives and keep them away from any network connection. This way even when the virus infiltrates in, your data is not completely lost.
Update your operating system and antivirus software
Having the latest antivirus programme installed in your computer and other devices is very important to prevent these cyber attacks. Hackers usually prey on complacency. So keep updating your operating system and security programmes as often as possible. Remember to turn on the automatic windows update. These updates are usually filled with several security patches that can fix bugs and close loopholes.
Turn off drives, macros and plugins
One your done syncing data in Dropbox/Google Drive/One Drive/etc, ensure you turn off/ sign out immediately. Also turn off macros in the Microsoft Office tools such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. when you are not using them. DonÔÇÖt leave them open on your computer or mobile devices, as its vulnerability increases. Remember to activate browser plugins such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Java and Silverlight only when needed. Remove any outdated plugins and add-ons from your browser.
Never pay the ransom
Cyber criminals demand ransom in exchange for providing access to your lost files. The payment is usually demanded in bitcoins. This digital currency is widely used as it is decentralised, unregulated and practically impossible to trace. Even if the ransom seems affordable, never pay the same. The reason is, the payment of ransom amount will encourage the hackers to release more such Ransomware into the mainstream network.
So, wake up, follow the simple tips mentioned above to escape these virus attacks!