As of noon Monday, 5/15, NPR says over 150 countries have been hit by Ransomware malware attacks. The consequences are severe. Victims include scores of thousands of businesses and institutions, including the U.K. National Health Service (they had to turn away patients) and railway and other vital services around the world. Some big companies have had to shut down entire factories. One of the biggest oil companies in China had their “payment system” attacked. I don’t know whether they meant payroll or accounts payable. I heard all this on NPR today.
(By the way, do you have a stash of emergency cash buried somewhere? Going to wait until the banking system is hacked or your Social Security or payroll check gets sent to Siberia?)
Old versions of Windows (and Windows 10 installations not kept up to latest updates) are susceptible. There are many ways you can pick up this malware, by browser, email, etc.
Get the Microsoft Update to protect old versions of Windows, back to XP and Server 03. If you’re running Automatic Updates, you should have it already. Check to be sure. Windows Update procedure varies depending on your version of windows. Microsoft FAQ on Windows Update for versions 7, 8 and 10:
To manually download and install the update for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and Servers, go to the Windows Update Catalog search result for the Ransomware-related patch as updated May 13, 2017:
(or go to catalog.update.microsoft.com and manually run a search for 4012598)
From the table on that page, click the blue download button for your version.
Norton (Symantec) Security Report about Ransomware:
Norton Article on Importance of Backup as Protection from Ransomware:
I tested the Windows XP update on an old computer and it installed with no trouble.
Your feedback / corrections to this info requested and your questions invited.
Quoted from the above Norton Report:
What are best practices for protecting against ransomware?
- New ransomware variants appear on a regular basis. Always keep your security software up to date to protect yourself against them.
- Keep your operating system and other software updated. Software updates will frequently include patches for newly discovered security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by ransomware attackers.
- Email is one of the main infection methods. Be wary of unexpected emails especially if they contain links and/or attachments.
- Be extremely wary of any Microsoft Office email attachment that advises you to enable macros to view its content. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is a genuine email from a trusted source, do not enable macros and instead immediately delete the email.
- Backing up important data is the single most effective way of combating ransomware infection. Attackers have leverage over their victims by encrypting valuable files and leaving them inaccessible. If the victim has backup copies, they can restore their files once the infection has been cleaned up. However organizations should ensure that back-ups are appropriately protected or stored off-line so that attackers can’t delete them.
- Using cloud services could help mitigate ransomware infection, since many retain previous versions of files, allowing you to roll back to the unencrypted form.