In the latest news, the WannaCry Ransomware has recently infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries. It crippled a lot of business owners and government institution by encrypting their important data. And if users want to decrypt or recover their files they need to pay a ransom of $300 in bitcoin currency.
Although the Wannacry ransomware was temporarily prevented, new variants of ransomware is expected to strike again. So how do we prevent it from infecting our computers or least not hold us for ransom? Here are some tips on how you can prevent malicious software from infecting your computer.
Update your operating systems or softwares. WannaCry spread rapidly by exploiting the security holes left un-patched OS Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 and 2008 editions. If you or your organizations is still using older versions of these OS it is now be time to upgrade.
Do not open spam emails or emails from unknown sources. One way to spread the malware is by sending it automatically via email asking the user to click a link or download an attachment. Most of the time spam emails disguises itself from someone you know like from your boss, friend or a relative.
Turn-off your macros in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint). Once you automatically open an infected file with macros enabled you are giving permission to run malicious program to run into your computer. Disabling the macros will give you time to decide whether the file is clean or not.
Regularly backup your data. There are times that being infected might be inevitable. Having a backup will let you restore your files without paying the ransom. Besides paying the ransom is not a guarantee that criminals will give you the decryption key.
Install an antivirus software. Like your Windows OS, your antivirus must be updated with the latest virus definitions or enhancement. Most of the times antivirus companies releases new prevention methods once it discovers new threats from the Internet.
Don’t be a click happy person. Aside from spam emails malicious links may also be found in your social media feed such as in Facebook, Tumblr etc. Although this social giants have a way of detecting bad links it is still up to you to decide whether a shared link is clean or not. If you are unsure of the link, DON’T CLICK!
What if your computer is already infected?
There are times that no matter how careful we are, malicious programs has ways of infecting the system. If a ransomware is already installed in your PC, the first thing to do is disconnect your computer from the Internet. This will keep it further spreading on the Internet or to other PCs connected into your network. If you live in the US you may report it to the authorities and seek help.
If you are tech person, you can visit Microsoft Security Website on how to remove the ransomware.
In some cases it may seems logical just to pay the ransom to make your PC normal again, but take note that once you paid for their demands you are funding their criminal activities. In the case of WannaCry Ransomware there has been reports that users have paid the ransom but never got the decryption keys back.