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TEACHER’S ARTICLES

RANSOMEWARE – CYBER ATTACK

Dated : July 12, 2017

Recently, there was one of the largest cyber attacks ever that hit PCs in countries and businesses around the world.

Today, I would like to talk about this issue that occurred during mid of May 2017.

Well, a vulnerability first uncovered by America’s National Security Agency and then released by hackers on the internet is now being used in one of the most prolific cyber attacks ever, causing massive tidal waves of malicious software and even bigger waves for victims.

It’s called WannaCry, and it’s brought computer systems from Russia to China to the UK and the US to their knees, locking people out of their data and demanding they pay a ransom or lose everything. So far, more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries have been affected, with victims including hospitals, banks, telecommunications companies and warehouses.

What is WannaCry?

It’s the name for a hacking attack known as “ransomware,” that holds your computer hostage until you pay a ransom.

The way it works is that once it infects a computer, it encrypts — or basically scrambles — all the data. Then the program puts up a screen demanding you pay money to get access back. Typically the price increases over time until the end of a countdown.

Another diabolical twist is if the ransom isn’t paid in 72 hours, the price could double. And after a few days, the files are permanently locked.

The ransom that was demanded for decryption of files appeared to be 300$btcions.

What is this bitcoin stuff the hackers want to be paid with?

Hackers typically demand payment via bitcoin, an untraceable digital currency often used on shadowy parts of the internet. While it’s hard to trace, the amount of money that’s been sent to the criminals is public information.

Approximately, 1 Bitcoin = 1,61,000 Indian Rupees.

Does WannaCry affect Mac, iPhone or Android?

No. It appears to only affect computers powered by Microsoft Windows. Microsoft released a software update in March 2017 that protects against this vulnerability; but regrettably many people didn’t update their computers.

Fortunately, to protect yourself against this latest threat, there is much that you can do:

Install Anti-Malware Software.

If you’re running a Windows-powered PC, make sure all your software is up to date. In addition, as always, do not open suspicious emails, do not click on links you don’t know or do not open any files you weren’t expecting.

If the machine is already infected then, formatting the machine and restoring from backups is a better way to go. So make sure you have a regular backup of your data.

They say, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”, be alert.

By,

Savitha K.

Computer Science teacher.

 
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