Terms to Know:
- Ransomware: Malicious software that attacks a computer by encrypting files on it. Hackers then ask that the computer's owner pay a fee to regain access to those files.
- Encryption: Encryption codes files so that they are not readable unless they are decrypted. This is typically used to keep information safe (such as with Bitlocker Encryption). However, ransomware uses encryption to lock someone out of their own files.
- Phishing email: An email that appears to come from a friend or coworker that tries to convince a computer user to click a link to download a file that appears harmless. The user will then download a virus or other malicious software.
What is WannaCry?
WannaCry Ransomware was discovered last Friday affecting computers around the world. It encrypts files on a victim's computer and then asks him/her to pay a fee in order to get access to those files again.
How WannaCry Spreads
WannaCry ransomware can infect computers through phishing emails, but once a computer is infected it can directly infect other devices on its network, such as file servers and other computers.
How to Protect Yourself
Microsoft has released a patch for the vulnerability that WannaCry exploits over the network, so Windows systems with Windows Update enabled should already be protected from a network infection by WannaCry. Make sure that your computer software has been updated to the latest version, and if you believe that your computer is not automatically applying updates or is having an issue installing updates, please contact the Helpdesk at firstname.lastname@example.org
While Microsoft's patch will protect your computer from a network-based infection by WannaCry, it is crucial to keep yourself safe from phishing and ransomware:
- Be wary of links contained in emails and do not open unsolicited email attachments.
- Only download software from sites you know and trust.
- Contact the IT Freedom Helpdesk immediately if you believe your operating system, web browser, or anti-virus software is not up-to-date.