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It wasn’t Friday the 13th, but for organizations across the world held ransom to cyber criminals, last Friday May 12, 2017 felt like it.
On that day, organizations around the world began fending off attacks from a ransomware strain variously known as WannaCrypt, WanaDecrypt and WannaCry. To date, the malware has spread to 150 countries and through more than 200,000 organizations - and expert warn there’s more to come, with new strains emerging.
Ransomware encrypts a victim’s data, from documents and images to music and other files, unless the victim pays for a key to unlock them. Victims without access to good backup systems have two choices: kiss the data goodbye or pay the ransom.
This particular malware includes an encryption package that locks up the machine’s files, and demands payment of US$300-US$600-worth of the virtual currency Bitcoin for a key to unlock them. The cyber criminals threaten to delete the data if not paid within seven days.
Organizations or individuals who are running older and newer Microsoft Windows systems and have not applied a March 2017 patch are vulnerable. The ransomware spreads with the help of a file-sharing vulnerability and can infect an entire network.
Microsoft issued a patch to fix this flaw in March 2017, but it was unavailable to older versions of Windows, such as Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, leaving many organizations and individuals open to hacking. The software giant has since made the patch available to older systems (see below for links).
One sign is not being able to access your systems, files and data base. However, in most cases a red pop-up appears on your computer screen. The red screen is the “ransom note” that demands payment to get back access to your data.
This is what the pop-up could look like:
The ransomware automatically scans for computers with the same defect it can infect whenever it loads itself onto a new machine. It spreads as a worm, scanning other computers on the same wireless network and leaping onto them. For example, if your laptop is infected and you went to a coffee shop and connected to the WiFi, it would spread to other PCs on the coffee shop.
Similarly, it can spread onto company networks.
For more information, contact Danny Timmins, National Cyber Security Leader, at 905.607.9777 or
Related Topics:Cyber Security
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