May 16, 2017

WannaCry Virus Locking Computers Worldwide + How To Protect Yourself

THIS IS NOT FAKE NEWS -- if you use a smartphone or any other computer connected to the internet, you should read this right now.

Originally posted 5-15-17 by a major US News organization - Condensed Here To Reduce Size:
A ''ransomware attack'' that began in Europe on May 13th is still hitting new targets. The WannaCry Virus has locked hundreds of thousands of computers all over the world. Infected users are confronted with a screen demanding payment to gain access again to their files!

The cyberattack has hit more than 300,000 computers, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said at Monday's midday White House briefing.  
The WannaCry software — also known as WannaCrypt, Wana Decryptor or WCry - has been wildly successful at infecting and spreading and continues to grow.
STATUS UPDATE - May 15, 2017:
In the U.S., "the list of victims is very small," a Department of Homeland Security official tells NPR, noting that it's still relatively early in the attack
The victims, a US government official says, range widely in scope, from a few computers at companies and organizations to networks of many more. Cyber Security Agencies worldwide are now in a "sort of cat-and-mouse" competition with hackers, as variants of the software that foil previous solutions emerge, the official says.
While ransom payments for users' stolen data had been notably low, the Security Response blog notes that a bitcoin address linked to the hackers showed a "spike in payments" to the account that began at 8 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time on Monday.
WannaCry's Origins
The identity of whoever deployed the software remains unknown. "The WannaCrypt exploits used in the attack were drawn from the exploits stolen from the National Security Agency," Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith says. He says that when the NSA lost control of the software behind the cyberattack, it was like "the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen."
Theft of the software was reported in April 2017, when it was published by the Shadow Brokers, a group that has been linked to Russia. In March 2017, Microsoft had released a patch targeting the vulnerability. But the success of the attack shows that not enough people took advantage of the patch.
"This was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold ransom data," homeland security adviser Bossert said at Monday's White House briefing. He said the software attacking a vulnerability had been incorporated with other software and delivered in a way to cause "infection, encryption and locking."
Windows users should update their software to avoid the ransomware, security experts say.  In addition to Microsoft's Security Bulletin MS17-010 that patched the vulnerability in March, the company also issued a separate patch on Friday for users of older and unsupported operating systems such as Windows XP.  
  1. Back up your computer and store the safety version in the cloud or on a drive that is not connected to your computer.
  2. Use robust antivirus software.
  3. Keep all the software on your computer up-to-date. Enable automatic updates.
  4. Never open attachments in emails from someone you don't know. And remember that any account can be compromised.
  5. Enable the "Show file extensions" option in the Windows settings on your computer. This will make it much easier to spot potentially malicious files. Stay away from file extensions like ".exe," ".vbs" and ".scr."
  6. If you find a problem, disconnect your machine immediately from the Internet or other network connections (such as home Wi-Fi).
The information above courtesy of National Public Radio

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