Reports of WannaCry ransomware are widespread worldwide, affecting computer networks of Britain’s National Health Service, Fedex, and in our country, the government of Saskatchewan.
The virus’s function is in it’s name “ransomware.” WannaCry locks your computer’s files, offering only to return them if you send $300 worth of BitCoin. The amount is then raised if you take too long to offer payment.
In essence, your files are held for ransom.
Ransomware is nothing new, however WannaCry is noteworthy for it’s widespread attack and effect on major institutions and companies.
The nature of this virus brings to mind the ILOVEYOU virus that spread in the summer of 2000. With email, the internet, and computers still growing at the time, ILOVEYOU preyed on the ignorance of users through the guise of an anonymous lover sending you a “letter”.
The virus itself was full of anything but love. Once opening the text file, your files would be randomly overwritten as useless .txt files. It would then spread itself by forwarding the ILOVEYOU virus to up to 500 of your contacts in Outlook.
The pair of men who wrote the virus were later found by authorities in the Philippines, but were released since there were no anti-malware laws in place in the year 2000.
Whether it’s the year 2000 or the year 2017, it’s important to be mindful of cyber security. Here’s a few things to keep note of:
APPLE COMPUTERS CAN STILL CONTRACT A VIRUS
While once true, the idea that Mac computers are immune to viruses is no longer. With decades as the #2 computer on the market, hackers have had more than enough time to write code capable of affecting Apple machines.
YOUR SMARTPHONE CAN GET A VIRUS TOO
While we tend to think of them as “just phones,” it’s easy to forget that you hold a mobile computer in your hands, which is also susceptible to malware. Ransomware similar to WannaCry exist on both Android and Apple smartphones.
DON’T SLACK ON YOUR ANTIVIRUS
Not all trojans, malware, and viruses make themselves obvious. It’s possible for malicious software to make themselves at home on your computer without making themselves known. In my first scan of my antivirus in about 6 months, over 10 trojans were found in my hard drive. If you are too tight on funds to actually buy an Antivirus program, I recommend Avira.
Be safe out there!