In recent news, some businesses have been affected by a virus.
This virus is called WannaCry, WCry or WannaCrypt. It mainly affects older computer systems such as Windows XP and Windows Vista. The virus encrypts your files so you cannot access them, and demands payment through the online currency, Bitcoin.
The virus has spread through the German Rail Network, a Spanish Telco, hospitals in England, UK offices of FedEx, the Russian Interior Ministry and many businesses now in Australia.
Circulating Image of WannaCry pop-up – Source: TheVerge
How Did This Happen?
Certain businesses still run old systems (such as XP and Vista) without regular updates. Every computer system nowadays regularly updates itself and applies patches to the software, to protect from new viruses. Patches are there to help update systems bit by bit to keep up with the continuous new malware that comes out every year.
“In March, we released a security update which addresses the vulnerability that these attacks are exploiting. Those who have Windows Update enabled are protected against attacks on this vulnerability. For those organizations who have not yet applied the security update, we suggest you immediately deploy Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010.” Source: Microsoft TechNet
Some businesses were behind on this update. Therefore, the attacks were permitted.
The virus spread through shared files, serial ports and printers in businesses and also links in emails. The hackers, however, could also attack with remote access on unpatched systems.
Many businesses were affected and lost priceless amounts of information.
How can I protect my Business?
Here are a few key steps to follow to make sure your computers and networks are safe from attackers.
Update your system regularly
Always follow the prompts on any Microsoft product when it comes to firewalls and security protection. Make sure you have Windows Updates enabled so you receive new patches and have your firewalls turned on. If you want, you can purchase a bulk subscription for an Anti-Virus software from a trusted brand. Such as Bitdefender, Kaspersky, McAfee, Sophos or the popular Norton (Symantec) to name a few. These brands offer great deals for companies, and specialise in business protection, . Specifically in the fields of network privacy, file safety and online payment security. They also regularly update themselves with automatic patch downloads.
It may cost a pretty penny for a year’s subscription, but with certified internet security, your business will fare better, not only with your company but with your customer’s trust.
Be Email Savvy
If you don’t recognise an email sender or it contains a suspicious link – never open anything! If the email sender has a strange mix of letters, numbers or an unusual name it’s usually a scam or virus mailbox. Unless you have requested a link to reset a password or to access a new account, it’s always best to avoid links altogether unless they are from a trusted email.
If an email is asking you to visit a site, a great way to check the status of it is with Norton’s free online tool, ‘Safe Web’. You simply type in a website address, and it will give it a rating. With the Safe Web extension on your browser, the rating will automatically appear next to the website in every google search!
It will also reveal where the address is located, if it is Norton verified, and any other Ecommerce Safety Information.
A screen grab of Safe Web by Norton – Source: Safe Web
Check Website Authenticity
Before entering in any valuable information into any website, make sure your information is safe with this handy tip.
Most web browsers have a little lock icon. It is either green, grey or has a red line through it up in the top left-hand corner. Green usually means this website is certified, safe and stores your information privately. Grey means it’s not secure or it’s a private connection but doesn’t necessarily means it is unsafe. It simply means you shouldn’t enter sensitive information such as credit card details. Sometimes, store websites with grey icons have their shopping cart page turn green because they only authenticate and protect the purchasing sections only. This happens sometimes. Finally, red means definitely not secure and you should not enter any private information ask hackers may be able to view it.
If you’re on a Chrome browser, click on the icon before the web address in the top left corner, then click ‘learn more’. Chrome will open a help page on internet safety and what the different colours mean.
A final handy tip for website authenticity is a technique I personally like to call the ‘hover’. If you hover your clicker over a link, usually what will happen is the web address will pop up along the bottom of the screen in a faint grey. If someone shares a dodgy deal on Facebook or a website is trying to scam you with a link, trying hovering over the link to see if it is a recognisable link, or some random letters and numbers. The more random the address, the more likely it is unsafe. If you’re unsure, do not press it!
Do Not Panic
Lastly, this is an important tip. The media usually makes hacking scandals and viruses like Wannacry into headlining horror stories. The main thing is to remain calm and rest assured that you understand the internet and how to be safe and you’re protecting yourself by following these tips.
The best thing to do when a story like this hits is to check out blogs from tech professionals on their take on the matter and follow instructions given by leaders in software such as Microsoft or Apple.
In recent news, a 22-year-old IT expert has managed to block the WannaCry virus and helped slow down the outbreak. This savvy tech wizard managed to work around the attack by looking at the code for the virus. He found it linked to an unregistered web address. He bravely registering that website himself to monitor and stop the virus from the inside, before it could reach the United States. So there’s always hope and someone fighting to fix mistakes from the cruelty of others!
Don’t worry, all our links are safe!