150 countries and more than 200,000 devices later there is still a massive threat from the WannaCry Ransomware that hit specific Windows OS devices over the past weekend. In the later hours of Friday the WannaCry Trojan, a mod of an NSA surveillance tool, began spreading through mostly enterprise PCs running older version of Windows on their computers.
The Ransomware encrypted files of infected user systems and demanded a ransom of $300 per device to decrypt the data. Just in case a user was unable to pay the ransom they have been informed that data will be unlocked after 6 MONTHS! All those who fail to act will have their data lost as indicated by the timer presented to them.
I was also one of the many victims hit by the Ransomware, and while I was busy writing this article I was informed that all my work data has been lost to this very potent infection. After losing my entire music collection with over 12 GB of block rockin’ beats and some blogs I was supposed to publish, I am on a mission to seek answers on how to protect your data from ransomware wanacry.
5 Ways to Secure Your Devices against WannaCry Ransomware
Most people will be mourning trying to accept the fact that their data is now indeed lost, but, this is exactly when we need to take this up a notch. It’s time to get those networks and devices secure with news lingering that a second wave of WannaCry attacks is expected.
With the Success of WannaCry, Imitations are Quickly In Development https://t.co/zbyUCqyCvB
— Mikko Hypponen (@mikko) May 15, 2017
After careful research I discovered 5 measures to protect your devices from the WannaCry Ransomware:
1) How to protect Data From Ransomware Using Anti-Virus & Internet Security Suites
It is the first line of defense, the protector of your device and network. Users running updated Anti-Virus & Internet security suites were spared the torment of losing their files simply because they were proactive. I had Kaspersky Internet Security at work which did not act in time to patch the Ransomware, leading to the massive outbreak.
Excerpt from WeLiveSecurity’s Security Bulletin
Various other security suite providers including ESET Smart Security and F-Secure were proactive mitigating against the attack as soon as it made attempts of intrusion. After falling out of favor due to the rise of the online privacy debate, it is time once more to start believing in PC Security Suites once again.
Proactive features including Live Online Vulnerability Scanners, NAT Firewalls, Deep Packet Inspection, Malware Scanners and others can immediately identify & block Ransomware attempts to infiltrate your network let alone your devices.
2) Keep Devices Patched/Updated And Bypass Ransomware WanaCry Attack
One of the major reasons for the WannaCry Ransomware to spread like a fire is attributed to EVERYONE! The blame primarily falls on to the NSA who failed to secure their own arsenal of cyber surveillance tech to begin with, also failing to inform Microsoft about the data breach. Next in line is Microsoft who failed to push any vulnerability patch for users of older Windows OS systems. Microsoft re actively sent out the update only after WannaCry had already wreaked havoc worldwide.
Last on the list are us the users of these devices who failed to realize just how powerful a simple $30 antivirus can be for your devices, at least my IT department didn’t. What I mean here in layman terms is that we are ALL, irresponsible when it comes to cyber security.
Always update our Antivirus & Internet Security software as soon as an update is available. The difference between paying a $300 Ransomware demand and not paying at all is no more than a few hundred KBs of updates.
3) Back Up Your Data Regularly And Avoid Ransomware WanaCry
Possibly one of the most basic steps to take, backing up data may take time but it will save you from a whole world of troubles. Right now I’m devastated I have lost 4 years of my work and my company has refused to pay-up signaling the end of an era for me as a blogger. Although I had my data backed up, unfortunately this was on a drive in my laptop.
I recommend using an external hard drive rather than uploading files to a cloud drive. I say this largely due to the fact that even cloud storage is online and only a keystroke away from being infiltrated itself. Portable hard drives are also easier to store now and with no online connectivity are the best option to backup critical work data.
4) How To Keep Data Safe From Ransomware by Using an Ad-blocker/Script Blocker
Designed mainly to block advertising scripts from websites, ad-blockers or script blockers are a very powerful tool to monitor and restrict malware from infecting your PCs. While Ad-block remains one of the most famous browser extensions to choose, there are other more effective tools that can secure you from malware & Ransomware lingering on websites.
I personally recommend the following add-ons for proactive security in your browser:
- Privacy Badger
- Bad Ad Johnny
- HTTPS Everywhere
5) Avoid Opening Suspicious Email And Circumvent Ransomware
This may not sound childish but, PLEASE, consider not opening emails that are pure click bait and those that address you directly without reason offering you a free iPhone. Do remember in that moment that, one the email has no free money in it for you and two the iPhone is worth a $1000 no one gives it away for free.
Never turn off the spam filter in your email inbox no matter what service you use.
In a Nutshell
The internet is not the safe online haven that we had a few years back. Data breaches, Ransomware, malware, Trojans & viruses are all part of the package now. There is only so much you can do about it so always have a strategy for your online privacy & security. I hope the tipis mentioned above can help you mitigate against Ransomware up to a certain level, honestly even I can’t suggest how to stop the WannaCry threat.
Hope to see you guys again with hopefully better news that today, until then stay safe online.