What you need to know about ransomware

Posted May 12, 2017 by Tim Sandle
A spate of fast-moving wave of cyber attacks have swept the globe, using a form of ransomware. This malicious software has infiltrated a number of IT systems, including that of the English National health Service We take a look at the virus.
Spain's national cryptology centre said the ransomware used affected the Windows operating syst...
Spain's national cryptology centre said the ransomware used affected the Windows operating system
The British National health Service (primarily in England) has been hit as part of a wave of global cyber-attacks that threw hospitals and businesses around the world into chaos. Up to 74 countries could have been affected.
According to The Guardian, the hackers used a tool stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
In terms of the scale of the attacks, cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab estimates that 45,000 attacks had been carried out in 74 countries, mostly in Russia. The Russian interior ministry said earlier today that about 1,000 computers of its computers had been affected. This include country’s largest bank, Sberbank.
The viral attack was a type of program called ransomware, under the specific development heading "WanaCrypt0r 2.0." Ransomware is a type of malware designed to block access to a computer or its data and demands money to release it. Most ransomware is hidden in documents (like Word files or pdfs) and attached to emails. If a user opens or activates the file, the malicious code is downloaded.
With the recent attacks, this has primarily been as demands for bitcoins (a crypto-currency that cannot be easily traced). When the software infects a computer the ransomware proceeds to contact a central server for the information it needs to activate. Following this it begins to encryptfiles on the infected computer with this information.
More details about ransomware are shown in the following video:
After each of the computer files have become encrypted, the ransomware issues a message asking for payment from the user to decrypt the files. Often this will be posted with a threat to destroy the information if payment is not made. A set-time is displayed by which payment needs to be made, to ply pressure on the computer user.
How can users protect themselves?
For the recent ransomware, Microsoft has issued a patch for affected versions of Windows. This is designed to ensure that the vulnerability cannot be used to spread malware between fully updated versions of its operating system. Any computer user is advised to ensure they have the latest Windows update installed.
Take Precautions
Going forwards, computer users should exercise great care when opening Web links or attachments in emails o(even if the sender is known to you). Ask yourself:
Are you expecting the communication?
Is it typical of a type of email from that person?
Tactics include ‘bait phrases’ such as “hey look what I have found” or pretend to be links to package tracking etc.
Always try to be vigilant when using your computer.