In case you haven't been paying attention, there was a major cyberattack over the weekend. Ransomware dubbed WannaCry started infecting computer systems across the globe on Friday and has spread to at least 150 countries so far.
This ransomware attack is different than most, in that it is being deployed via a worm and spreads itself between vulnerable computers connected to the same network. That's why you need to take these three steps now to stay protected.
3 steps you need to take now
With the WannaCry ransomware spreading like a worm, it's one of the worst attacks on record. Luckily, a researcher has figured out a way to stop it from infecting more machines. Unfortunately, criminals could easily tweak the variant and deploy a new strain to start it all over again.
We can almost guarantee that cybercriminals will do just that and ramp up another massive ransomware attack. Which is why you need to be prepared and take the following safety precautions.
1. Install Microsoft's patch
Microsoft routinely sends out updates to its operating systems that contain patches to vulnerabilities. The tech giant patched the EternalBlue flaw, which is being exploited for the WannaCry ransomware, back in March. For your system to be protected, you need to keep your operating system up-to-date by installing these Windows updates (We'll tell you how to do this in step 3).
The bad news is, older versions of Windows operating systems are no longer supported and do not receive these critical Security Updates. The good news is since WannyCry ransomware is so wide-spreading, Microsoft released an emergency patch for its no-longer supported operating systems.
The company said, "We also know that some of our customers are running versions of Windows that no longer receive mainstream support. That means those customers will not have received the Security Update released in March. Given the potential impact to customers and their businesses, we made the decision to make the Security Update for platforms in custom support only, Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003."
If you are running one of the above mentioned unsupported operating systems, click here to download the available Security Update.
2. Backup your data
With all ransomware attacks, even if you pay the ransom, you never know if the scammer is really going to unlock your computer and return access to all your files. This has led to the FBI warning victims not to pay these ransoms.
The best way to defend against ransomware attacks is to have strong security software and backup all of your critical data.
Obviously, backing up a single device doesn't cut it anymore! What about your phone? Your tablet? Your laptop? Your hard drive? And what about the devices for each of your family members?
You need something that protects everything within a single account. That's why we recommend our sponsor, IDrive!
When you sign up for IDrive's Universal Backup, it's easy to protect each device in your household. Simply install the software on the gadgets you'd like to cover and manage your account from a single user dashboard. The data from each device will be organized in individual folders within your account.
IDrive's Universal Backup covers all of the operating systems including Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. Plus, you can take advantage of the social media backup tool, and create a safe archive for the posts, photos and videos you've shared on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
3. Install all Windows updates
The criminals behind WannaCry ransomware are exploiting the EternalBlue flaw in Windows operating systems. This flaw is an NSA tool leaked by Shadow Brokers earlier this year.
Microsoft knew of this vulnerability months ago and sent a patch for it in a Security Update back in March. So it is CRITICAL to make sure your Windows OS is up to date.
Most Windows machines are set to download and install updates automatically by default. If you haven't changed your automatic update settings then you should be fine.
But if you want to check, here's how:
On Windows 10, click Start (Windows logo), choose "Settings," select "Update & Security," then on the "Windows Update" section, click on "Advanced Options." (Note: the "Windows Update" section is also handy for showing you updates that are currently being downloaded or applied.) Under "Advanced Options," just make sure the drop down box is set to "Automatic."