The WannaCry ransomware attack started on Friday, May 12 2017 and is unprecedented in scale, already affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries. The countries most affected thus far are reported to be Russia, Ukraine, India, and Taiwan.
So what does WannaCry do exactly? It spreads across local networks and the Internet to systems that aren't currently updated with the most recent security updates.It will then encrypt your hard drive and ask for a ransom in Bitcoins to get a decryption key. Most of the time, infected hard drives must be completely wiped to remove the malware and only about 50% of the time are the contents recoverable. This also impacts USBs. It uses software developed by the NSA.
If you're worried, don't be just yet. Microsoft had released a patch back in March for this vulnerability, however there are many machines world-wide that had not applied this patch and are therefore vulnerable to this attack. Most of your machines should be set to automatically download and install the updates from Microsoft, however it is possible that some of your machines have not had this patch installed and should be checked for vulnerability. In order to see if your machine has the patch installed, you need to go to Start-Control Panel-Programs and Features and click on the link on the left side that says "View Installed Updates". Scroll down the list until you come to the section labeled "Microsoft Windows" and look for the following:
a. If you have Windows 7, look for KB4019364
b. If you have Windows 8, look for KB4019215
c. If you have Windows 10, look for KB4016871
If your machine is still vulnerable, you can download and install the patch indicated from the following links:
Windows 10 : https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4016871/windows-10-update-kb4016871
Windows 8 : https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4019215/windows-8-update-kb4019215
Windows 7 : https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4019264/windows-7-update-kb4019264
For those still with Windows XP, Microsoft made the unprecedented step of releasing a patch yesterday to fix this exploit. You can download the patch here:
If you're still a Windows Vista user, you may be wondering what's next? You can continue using Vista, but exercising caution while browsing the internet is now of your utmost priority. Never click on suspicious links or give out your personal information to sites you don't trust. However, the best thing you can do for your computer and yourself at this time is to upgrade your operating system from Vista to a newer one such as Windows 10.
Besides these security updates, what can you do to avoid this ransomware? Always be diligent to not open suspicious e-mails or e-mail attatchments and never click a link that you're unsure about. Always exercise caution if you're suspicious. If you need help with your computer, we will always be by your side!