On May 12, a new ransomware threat emerged. Called WannaCry, it quickly spread across the globe and infected Windows-based systems. The attack can affect anyone using a Windows computer without the appropriate security patch; however, organizations are most at risk because of how quickly ransomware can spread across a network.

How it works. You log into your computer and receive a notice that all of your files have been encrypted. Unless you pay a ransom within seven days (via Bitcoin) your files will be deleted. If you pay the ransom, the attackers claim that they will decrypt your files and return them to you.

So should you pay the ransom? Absolutely not! Several pieces of evidence suggest that paying the ransom won’t accomplish anything.

Is it possible to recover my own files? If you regularly back up your files to a cloud storage system, then you will be able to access them that way. Otherwise, it depends upon where your files are stored. If they’re stored in My Documents, Desktop, or a removable drive, the original copies are probably gone. However files stored elsewhere in your computer might be recovered using an undelete tool. But again, it’s not a good idea to rely on that. It’s best to back up your files regularly.

Who has been most affected? So far, computers in Europe have been infected at a higher rate, and those using Windows 7 seem particularly vulnerable.

How do I protect myself against WannaCry? As we mentioned, always back up your own files regularly, using a remote cloud server. That way you have extra copies of your files in the event that they are “ransomed”. Keeping your anti-virus software up to date is also essential, so remember to check for updates and install them immediately.

Finally, since we don’t know for sure the origins of WannaCry, use extra vigilance when using email, surfing the Web, downloading attachments, and so on. Give us a call at 888-RING-MY-TECH and we can discuss safety protocol, as well as the best ways to secure your network against ransomware attacks.