What’s Going on with the Ransomware Attack on Microsoft?

woman at computer on phone

Worried about whether the malware attack on Microsoft’s operating systems could effect you? We’ll help you protect yourself.

You’ve probably read about the ransomware called WannaCry that’s been infecting computers across the world this week using an unpatched vulnerability in the Microsoft Windows operating system. If you’re unprotected, WannaCry can cost you $300 or more in ransom money that you’ll have to pay to regain control of your computer and files. The vulnerability does not exist within Windows 10, the latest version of the software, but is present in all versions of Windows prior to that, dating back to Windows XP.

This ransomware has infected over 200,000 computers across 150 countries so far. It’s infecting banks, hospitals and factories as well as individuals. WannaCry doesn’t use especially sophisticated technology; it preys on users who are using outdated software.

How Do You Protect Yourself Against WannaCry Ransomware?

You can protect yourself and your business from this attack by making sure all your computers are running the up-to-date operating system. Microsoft has officially ended support for XP, Vista, and Windows 7. This means that, for the most part, you will not receive security updates against threats like this. In this specific case, Microsoft has sent out a patch because the attack is so pervasive.

Click here for instructions on how to update your Windows operating system — this update includes the patch that will protect your computer.

What’s Ransomware? Is that Like a Computer Virus or Malware?

Yes, ransomware is a kind of virus; it is malware. But instead of just messing up operations on your computer, ransomware encrypts all the information on your computer’s hard drive so your computer is useless until you pay the ransom. In the case of WannaCry, the ransom must be paid in an internet-based currency called bitcoin, and it typically amounts to $300, although that number might be even higher in some cases.

How Do I Know If I’ve Been Affected? Did This Happen Because I Clicked on a Bad Link?

If you’ve been affected by WannaCry, you’ll already know because your computer won’t work. If you’re able to access your computer at all, you’re okay for now — just be sure to update your operating system to its latest version if you haven’t already so you’re not attacked. WannaCry isn’t being sent to people or downloaded from a bad link; instead, hackers are finding their way in through vulnerabilities in old operating systems. So protecting yourself now is the best way to prevent a WannaCry attack.

man gives a small smile as he poses for a portrait photo for Infomedia

Daniel is a man of many aliases. In high school, his nickname was Google because of his knack for remembering every little detail (that’s a talent that comes in handy around the office as well). We call him Sprout, because he’s worked here at Infomedia since he was an intern — and now we’re proud to call him a full-fledged programmer as well. Daniel thrives on his work as a web developer because he loves solving any puzzle, whether it’s Sudoku, a Rubik’s cube or a website. No matter which title he’s going by, it’s fair to call Daniel an excellent worker and a valuable asset to your team.


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