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How to Shield Your System Against WannaCry Ransomware Attack

17 May 2017

Smith's blog post did not address another factor in the ransomware's spread, one that hints at the difficulty of uniting against a hacking attack: Users of pirated Microsoft software are unable to download the security patch, forcing them to fend for themselves or rely on a third-party source for a solution.

"We have built an increasingly digital society on a very insecure foundation and we are starting to see the consequences of that", he said.

First and foremost, let's clarify exactly what WannaCry is. The Friday's cyber attack hit roughly 200,000 computers in at least 150 countries (according to Europol) around the globe.

According to UP police, a new wave of "WanaCrypt/ WannaCry ransomware" can propagate itself once it discovers a vulnerability in Windows systems. The fact that ransomware based on a single vulnerability can cause such enormous damage should be a wakeup call to everyone about how vulnerable we are to cyberattacks.

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The concern is that as employees return to work Monday and fire up their desktops, they'll fall victim to the virus that froze hundreds of thousands of computers over the weekend. Three days later, reports of WannaCry are now spiking in Asia. Some ransomeware variants display intimidating messages such as: "Your computer was used to visit websites with illegal content".

Ransomware is a type of wicked and malicious software that takes over the system of a computer. Instead, users are left with a button on the displayed ransom note that says "check payment".

On Saturday, a 22-year-old security researcher named Marcus Hutchins inadvertently slowed the spread of the WannaCry virus when he registered a domain name hidden within the virus' code in an attempt to track the spread of WannaCry, unintentionally stopping its progress in the process. Named WannaCry (also known as WannaCrypt), the ransomware has infected computers in hospitals, businesses, and homes.

Unfortunately, the outbreak being stopped is only temporarily.

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The WannaCry ransomware needs to be installed on your machine to take effect.

In a statement, the Microsoft Security Response Center said, "We are taking the highly unusual step of providing a security update for all customers to protect Windows platforms that are in custom support only, including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003".

"In my personal experience, I have come across that most of the ATMs run on customised versions/ embeds of Windows XP or better Windows 7 which came out in 2001 and 2009 respectively".

"If you want to look for an upside, it would be this would be a wakeup call", to improve computer security, he said. Hopefully affected users have backups of their data available, because the only other option right now is to follow the instructions offered in the software to pay the ransom.

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