A ransomware going by the name of “Wannacry” or “Wcry” has affected various institutions in several countries, thus causing some activities in the affected places to come to a halt.
Once it has entered the network of an entity, it locks all files and demands payments in the form of bitcoins to unlock said documents.
The amount requested is $300 (USD), and there’s a time limit to facilitate the payment. If the victims of the attack cannot do so within that particular time, WannaCry will double the amount.
Further failure to make the payment will delete all files and folders, and if the effected institutions never had a backup, then things will just get more complicated for them.
According to multiple sources, the affected entities include hospitals, telecommunications companies, banks, motor vehicles companies and government agencies.
Some hospitals have been forced to change their mode of operation in a bid to cater for urgent cases. For example, according to security analyses, a number of hospitals in the United Kingdom had no other choice but to divert their emergency patients as a result of the hacking.
This method targets individuals, companies and major institutions since it’s easier to get ransom from them.
They may be in a desperate position to get the locked files back, as their business operations depend on those files.
It is important to note that some institutions, both government and non-governmental, are willing to pay the price that may be required to get rid of the ransomware so as to proceed their normal operations.
A failure to do so might cause them more damage and possibly immense losses.
In a bid to protect its customers, Microsoft requested users to update the version of windows that they are using. Since, according to experts, Windows has vulnerabilities in the file sharing process.
As such, organizations that wanted to beef up security had to update their systems to the latest versions.
As a person or organization, experts have recommended quite a lot of measures of protection from not just Wannacry, but any ransomware that may invade in the future.
First, one should avoid clicking on emails and links they aren’t aware of, as it may be a virus.
Two, one should not connect to networks which they do not trust or know the provider.
Three, always avoid downloading and installing files from unknown sources on the internet. Four, it’s important to update Windows operating systems to the latest version, as it has more security features.
And last but not least, have an antivirus that monitors online activities, and always ensure it is up to date. By following this simple but basic tips, it is relatively easier to stay safe.
Also, taking extra measures such as backing up your data from an entirely different server will help a great deal.
In the event of a hacking attack that leaves all files inaccessible, one can easily recover lost information from the backup.
Though this sounds basic, it is paramount because it will safeguard users not only from ransomware but also other forms of viruses.
But as the virus continues to spread, the matter cannot go without taking a political dimension with some of the world’s superpowers pointing fingers at each other.
News reports say the Russian government is blaming the United States as the cause, as they are the chief architects of the sum of powerful tools now used by cyber criminals.
The reason as to why this accusation was made may be because Russia was one of the countries hit by the virus.
The U.S. is further accused of losing control over its invention. It is a new reality that many people are using hacking tools created by the U.S. intelligence community to cause havoc across the world, by creating viruses that are meant to do one thing or the other—from spying on people to corrupting and deleting files.
In an interview with ABC News, investigative journalist Brian Ross acknowledged the fact that he is unaware of any individuals who actually sent bitcoins to get their files unlocked.
He further said that this could result in a double scam.
The attack mainly focused on those who were using outdated versions of the Windows OS. That means that those who were using Apple or Linux never experienced the virus.
It is believed that a flaw was leaked from the U.S. National Security Agency in one way or another, and thus hackers were able to know that there is a weak point in earlier versions of Windows OS because such information is highly confidential and the general public does not know this fact.
Previously, U.S. intelligence agencies used the vulnerability to infiltrate other systems so as to spy on terrorists or just anyone they believed they needed to keep tabs on.
Some cyber security experts have linked the virus to North Korea. In their discovery, they established some similarities between the cyber attack and code used by a hacking group in North Korea by the name of Lazarus.
Top security firms Kaspersky and Symantec have clues that may lead the attack to the isolated state of North Korea.
They say this attack is similar to the massive 2015 hack on Sony entertainment, providing evidence that both of the hacks are probably from the same source.
Although, it’s also possible that the attackers were able to create such similarities in order to complicate the tracing procedure.
But some experts are saying that traffic is coming from servers based in North Korea, thus leading them to believe that they are responsible for the hack.
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