FTC Shares Tips on How to Avoid Ransomware Attacks Such as WannaCry

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a blog entitled ‘Ransomware worries? Keep up to date’ that shares tips on how to avoid ransomware attacks such as WannaCry that affected the computer systems of organizations around the world in May 2017, and suggests people update their own operating systems and other software and keep them up to date.

The ransomware in the news now is known as WannaCry or WannaCrypt. It locks users out of their systems until they pay the crooks who installed it. This ransomware takes advantage of a security hole in Windows server software that can be closed by an update from Microsoft. Many of the organizations affected by the ransomware had not installed the software update.

The FTC suggests people should download security updates when available – no matter what operating system is being used – since hackers are constantly looking for security gaps. In addition to keeping software up to date, the FTC has more suggestions on how to prepare for a ransomware attack in the blog available at www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/ransomware-worries-keep-date:

  • People should back up files often on their computers and mobile devices and log out of the cloud and unplug external hard drives when finished so hackers cannot encrypt and lock backups.
  • People should think twice before clicking on links or downloading attachments and apps since ransomware often is downloaded through phishing emails.

As reported earlier by ESR News, security experts called WannaCry one of the biggest cyberattacks ever after the ransomware program took advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows to spread to 150 countries and infect at least 200,000 computers around the world by locking down files and allowing hackers to demand a $300 ransom in bitcoins for their release.

Victims of the worldwide WannaCry ransomware cyberattack were FedEx, Nissan, the United Kingdom (U.K.) National Health Service, Deutsche Bahn, the Russian Central Bank, Russian Railways, Russia’s Interior Ministry, Megafon, and Telefónica. On May 12, 2017, Microsoft posted customer guidance for ransomware attacks to show individuals and businesses how to be protected.

People who have not updated their Windows PC recently are vulnerable to WannaCry. While Microsoft requires Windows 10 customers to automatically update computers, the multinational technology company released a security patch for the vulnerabilities in March 2017 for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003.

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