How to Prevent: WannaCry Ransomware Attacks

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How to Prevent WannaCry Ransomware Attacks?


Ransomware is a kind of cyber-attack where hackers can take control of your computer. On Friday, a large-scale cyber-attack was launched, affecting computers in 150 countries, and in less than a day.

The biggest ransomware attack yet, WannaCry was temporarily stopped in its tracks by a British researcher by registering an obscure web address, even as it infected 200,000 computers worldwide.

Here are some basic things to keep in mind to protect yourself from ransomware attacks-

Never Run Any Untrusted Files

If you receive an email from an unknown source, or an executable file that you don’t trust, never click on it. Discard it into your junk/ spam folder, or delete the file, and empty the recycle bin.

Moreover, Windows OSes since Vista have a security feature called User Account Control, which restricts unauthorized programs, such as the ransomware in question, from full administrative access. If an unknown app brings up a UAC prompt, steer clear of giving it any such permission.

If you want to run an untrustworthy program, run them inside a virtual environment. In such a scenario, the program can’t interact with any other files on your computer. Security researchers use this method to study malware but you shouldn’t try it if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Be Updated And Don’t Use Outdated Or Pirated OSes

The biggest reason for WannaCry’s success- 

  1. Most institutions, corporations and government agencies had been running an unsupported version of Windows, or an outdated one – XP in most cases – owing to a lack of funding for their IT department.
  2. The other issue was that there’s a heavy culture of software piracy in countries such as India, China, and Russia, where businesses, and even government offices, were using pirated copies of Windows, which don’t always have the required security updates.

Never TurnOff Automatic Update

Having the latest Windows OS installed – Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 – isn’t enough, you should have the most recent (May 2017) updates installed.

Here’s how you can make sure you receive automatic updates on the supported Windows systems. If you don’t see some of the options below, make sure you’re logged in with an administrative account.

On Windows 7 –

  1. Head to Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update.
  2. On the left-hand side, choose Change settings.
  3. Under Important updates, make sure it says Install updates automatically (recommended).
  4. Check all the other boxes on the page, and then click OK.

On Windows 8.1 –

  1. Hit Win key + X, and click Control Panel.
  2. Head to System and Security > Windows Update.
  3. On the left-hand side, choose Change settings.
  4. Under Important updates, make sure it says Install updates automatically (recommended).
  5. Check all the other boxes on the page, and then click OK.

On Windows 10 –

  1. Hit Start key, and click on the Settings gear icon.
  2. Head to Update & security, and then click Windows Update on the left.
  3. On the right, choose Advanced options.
  4. Under Choose when updates are installed, make sure it says Current Branch, and that both the values for feature and quality update are set to 0.
  5. Check the first two boxes, and close the window.

If you’re on an old Windows machine and haven’t been infected yet, install Microsoft’s emergency patch MS17-010. In the future, stay away from pirated/ unsupported Windows since you won’t receive timely updates, and make sure you’re using a version – Windows 7, 8.1 or 10 – that will get security updates in the long run.

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