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4000 small businesses a day: the vicious spread of WannaCry

In May this year the online world witnessed the Wannacry ransomware attack, a cryptoworm which spread like wildfire, demanding payments in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in over 230,000 computers using the Windows operating system.

The National Health Service, the UK’s public health body, was one of the most high profile victims, with its system being infected and some services being forced to be run on an emergency only basis. Other big hits included the likes of FedEx and Telefonica.

One of the main problems of the attack was that it threatened data of a sensitive nature by encrypting files. The National Security Agency in the USA gained some unwanted publicity after reports that it had neglected to report the vulnerability to Microsoft in the first place. This meant a delay in patches being made available to safeguard against the infection in operating systems such as Windows 7 and Windows 8.

A 22 year old man from Devon, England, found a ‘kill switch’ which was able to slow the virus significantly. Within four days, the WannaCry ransomware attack had nearly been brought under control. Researchers have now hit upon ways of rescuing data from machines which had become infected.

How can WannaCry be prevented?

There are several best practices that individuals and organisations can undertake in order to avoid being infected by ransomware such as WannaCry.

Make sure the software you are running – including your Windows operating system – is fully updated. A trusted IT support provider such as Absolutely PC can manage these processes for you. Also, install a reputable antivirus solutions and keep it updated. Eset antivirus comes highly recommended and we monitor virus activity for all of our customers adding an extra layer of protection.

Be very wary of clicking on hyperlinks or emails from senders who aren’t familiar to you, or organisations of which you have no prior knowledge. The same goes for opening attachments to emails which seem strange or unfamiliar. For many of our customers we filter their email so threats can be removed before reaching their inboxes.  Internet Explorer smartscreen can help you stay on track with notifications pertaining to any malware websites or those recognised as posing phishing threats. These notifications can assist you in making sensible navigation choices on the internet. An even better option is a firewall that will protect your office even if staff do try to visit infected websites.

And lastly, always remember to backup your files!  A hard drive plugged into your server is not adequate protection as it too will be affected by viruses.  Ensure your backups are offsite and automated so systems can be recovered quickly.

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