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By: Robert Carpenter | Posted on: 15 May 2017

I'm sure you are aware of the major cyber attack which began on Friday and spread globally over the weekend. This attack has already affected the UK’s NHS and many other businesses and ​organisations around the world. 

 

What is Ransomware?

Malicious software that locks a device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone and then demands a ransom to unlock it. Ransomware encrypts your data and unless you pay the ransom, your data will become unusable.  

 

How does it affect a computer?

The Ransomware software is normally hidden within an attachment to an email that masquerades as something innocent. Once opened it encrypts the hard drive, making it impossible to access or retrieve anything stored there.

 

How can you protect yourself?

Ransomware typically enters your system through email and you should be extremely cautious of all e-mails you receive, particularly those that ask you to open attachments or click on web links.  

  • DO NOT open spam emails or emails from suspicious senders
  • DO NOT download attachments from spam emails or suspicious emails
  • DO NOT click any links in spam emails or suspicious emails
  • ENSURE that you enable Automatic Updates and apply any outstanding software updates on your PC, laptop and servers.

 

Enabling Automatic Updates

Windows 7

  • Click on the Start menu and in "Search programs and files" type in "Windows updates".
  • Click on Windows updates
  • On the left hand pane, click on "Change settings"
  • Ensure the following are selected and checked:

Select: Install updates automatically (recommended) 
Select the time for the updates (if you leave your computer on all the time, select sometime at night, if you turn your computer off select lunch time).
Select: Give me recommend updates the same way I receive important updates.
Select: Allow all users to install updates on this computer
Select: Give me updates for Microsoft products and check for new optional Microsoft software when I update Windows.

  • Finally click on "OK", and click "Install updates" on the right hand pane.

 

Windows 10

With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft took the decision to make automatic updates the default setting, these generally get installed the second Tuesday of every month. What we want to do here is to apply the updates that Microsoft deployed over the past number of days to tackle this Ransomware threat.

  • Click on the Start button and then to Settings.
  • Click on "Update & Security"
  • Make sure "Windows update" is selected on the left hand pane and then click on "Check for updates" and install any that it finds.

 

Mac

Although the Apple Mac operating isn't affected by this attack, it's still important to apply any updates.

  • Click on the Apple Icon on the top left of your screen
  • Click on "About this Mac"
  • On this screen click on "Software update" button
  • Finally click on the "Update All" button

 

What other measures should you take?

While there is no 100% solution to protect against Ransomware, the first defence is vigilance with e-mail. It is also essential to ensure that you have a good onsite Cloud based backup system in place.

Other key considerations for your IT Support Provider is to ensure your systems are patched, running anti-virus/malware software and have valid backups. All these actions will dramatically reduce the risk and impact Ransomware can have.

 

What is Granite doing to help?

As your Web Support Provider, it is our responsibility to ensure that our web and database servers that host your website are adequately protected. In addition to our weekly maintenance patching and anti-virus/malware routines we run, this week we will be intensifying our efforts to help further protect our clients against this unprecedented cyber attack.

 

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