Ransomware, which has been on the rise for the past few years, encrypts files on a computer so that they can’t be read and the device becomes essentially useless. It gets its name because the culprits post messages on victims’ computers demanding payment, generally in the digital currency bitcoin, to undo the encryption (a promise they don’t always fulfill).Read more here.
The good news is that there are effective measures to protect against the software in Friday’s attack, generally called WannaCry, and other Ransomware. Here is what security pros recommend:
Take a hard look at your computer’s operating system
Still running Windows XP because it is good enough to get your web browsing and emailing jobs done? Then the recent WannaCry headlines are warning sirens. The first thing to do is download the emergency Windows XP patch Microsoft Corp. made available here. That will protect you from the attack that WannaCry uses to spread.
But it is important to know that Microsoft is no longer providing regular software updates to Windows XP, which means there likely are many other unpatched flaws on your system that could cause problems later. The only way to address that is to upgrade your operating system (which could require buying new computers). If you are running Windows 10, you are protected from WannaCry.
If you see those Windows Update messages on your PC, don’t put things off: Update your computer. Microsoft issued the software that protects against the WannaCry worm on March 14, which means some of those who have been infected merely needed to follow instructions and they would have been shielded.
While WannaCry spreads via a Windows bug, other forms of malicious software can spread through flaws in other software on your computer, such as Adobe Inc.’s Flash and Oracle Corp.’s Java. So the next time you see a prompt for a software update from those programs or others on your system, take the time to install it. It helps.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Robert McMillan reports at The Wall Street Journal,