WannaCry is not a joke, regardless of the name. This ransomware is one of the most dangerous cyberattacks that has an impressive stat of infecting over 200 000 computers across 150 nations. From individuals to banks, hospitals, as well as tech companies, WannaCry ransomware destroys.
About WannaCry Ransomware
WannaCry is a crypto ransomware. The cybercriminals behind this malware extort money from victims by holding their systems ransom.
There are two common ways in which attackers can hold your computer hostage; either by locking you out of your machine or making your personal files unreadable.
What does a crypto ransomware do? Generally, it scrambles files using encryption technology. This renders the files unreadable. Then, the locker ransomware is the one that locks the victim out of their system.
Like any other crypto ransomware, WannaCry holds data hostage until a ransom fee is paid. It targets MS Windows operating system machines, encrypting personal files and demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.
When WannaCry was first discovered back in 2017, it was more of a global epidemic as it affected over 150 countries across the world.
What Does WannaCry Ransomware Do?
They say the road to hell begins with good intentions. That is the case with WannaCry ransomware. Who would have thought a harmful threat like WannaCry, developed by the United States National Security Agency, will be used as a hacking mechanism?
The hack was first made public by the infamous Shadow Brokers. But Microsoft acted swiftly and released a patch with important security updates. The updates protected systems against the attack. The patch was released before the initiation of WannaCry attack.
Unfortunately, many individuals and organizations paid less attention to system updates. So, they were left exposed to the WannaCry attack. When the attack occurred, it was first thought to have been spread through the phishing technique. However, the hack was made public by the Shadow Brokers. It was then revealed that they were responsible for the spread of WannaCry.
To execute the WannaCry ransomware, a backdoor called DoublePulsar is installed in the victim’s device. Once the attack begins, the victim must pay $300 worth of Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The demand varies and can go up to thousands of dollars.
The attackers usually give a grace period of three days. Afterwards, they will warn the user that their files will be permanently deleted if the ransom isn’t paid.
No matter how important the files encrypted are, we advise not to give in to the demands or pressure of the attackers. Remember, these criminals feed on one’s fear and anxiety. That is the reason why they create chaos to strive. We advise you to remain calm and take necessary measures when dealing with a ransomware attack.
Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that you will get your files. One payment may lead to another, which can cause financial strains and stress. Also, each ransom payment validates the act, encouraging the occurrence of future attacks.
Victims of WannaCry ransomware who paid the ransom never received their files. Reason being there is always a ‘coding error’ and that the payment could not be matched to their particular systems. This makes it difficult to return the data.
What to Do About WannaCry Ransomware
Now that you understand the nature of the WannaCry ransomware, it’s high time to learn how to protect yourself from such attacks.
Here are the tips to apply:
1. Keep your system software updated.
Some users who fell victims of WannaCry ransomware had not updated their operating system for quite some time. Updates come with important security patches that help protect the system against cyber attacks. Be sure to keep your system updated as an important ransomware prevention measure.
Not everything is as innocent as it may look. Avoid clicking on any links that come from unknown, suspicious emails or websites. Unverified links can trigger ransomware infection.
3. Avoid downloading email attachments.
Even if you know and trust the sender, verify if the attachment is safe to open or download first. Attackers can hack an associate’s email account. Afterwards, they’ll send malicious content to their contacts. So, you must make sure you avoid attachments that want you to enable macros.
4. Download installation files only from trusted sites.
Unknown sites or unverified software distribution platforms are the main ransomware pools. Downloading content from these sites increases the risk of getting infected. So, you should only download from official, verified, and trusted sites.
5. Do not insert unknown USBs into your PC.
A common trend used by hackers is to leave USB sticks lying in public. Due to curiosity, one is likely to pick it and insert it into their computer. This auto triggers malware infection. Avoid unknown USB devices and scan for malware before accessing its content.
6. Install a trusted internet security software.
Ransomware attacks do not have a specific time or date. So, you should stay prepared for any attacks with the help of real-time protection. A trusted and reputable security software suite can help reduce the attacks.
7. Backup important data.
Backing up data is an important step that can help you recover when attacked by ransomware. With a backup of essential files, you can quickly remove the ransomware from your system and not worry about not getting back your files. It is best to create a backup using cloud or external storage. Ensure your external drive doesn’t stay connected to the system. This way, you avoid exposure to ransomware attacks.
How to Remove WannaCry Ransomware
Even the masterminds behind the WannaCry attacks have failed to decrypt data. This leaves them with nothing to send back to the victims who paid the ransom fee. This is due to a faulty code within the hack. When you experience an attack from WannaCry ransomware, it’s over. Consider your files gone and focus on getting rid of the infection.
Here is what you should do to remove WannaCry ransomware:
- Disconnect from the internet.
- Delete all programs installed almost at the time of the attack.
- Run a full system malware scan using a strong anti-malware suite.
- Run a secondary full system scan using a trusted antivirus program.
- Bring your PC back to its best performance level using a reliable PC repair utility.
WannaCry is still out there lingering, preying on those with weak systems. What’s more, this ransomware continues to improve. The best part is that protective measures are also improving. So, it is all about who lacks behind when it comes to updating their software. Install a strong antivirus software program and never turn it off to avoid attacks. Stay away from untrusted downloads and always be cautious on what you click on. By applying these simple measures, you cut the risk of exposure to WannaCry attacks.