Last week, a massive ransomware attack using stolen NSA hacking tools disabled an estimated 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries. The ransomware, known as WannaCry, severely affected organizations around the globe, including FedEx, the British National Health Service, car makers Renault and Nissan, and the Russian Interior Ministry.
Like other ransomware, WannaCry encrypts files on the infected computers, making these files inaccessible, and only releases the code to unencrypt the files when the user pays a $300 bitcoin ransom.
What is, perhaps, most disappointing with this most recent attack is that it was 100% preventable. All the infected machines were running outdated versions of Windows XP or Vista that are no longer being supported by Microsoft. The risks of continuing to use these versions of Windows were well known (and we warned of the need to stop using XP back in 2014).
The good news here, to the extent there is good news, is that protecting ourselves against ransomware like Wanna Cry is not difficult. If you follow the five simple steps in our story on Techlicious, you should be safe from ransomware and most other cyber threats likely to come your way.
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