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The NHS Virus – Are you up to date?

Following the NHS ransomware attack last week, its never been as important to make sure all your software is as most up to date as possible.

On Friday 12th May 2017 the worlds largest ransomware attack in history took place. affecting over 100 counties and causing chaos at the NHS, crippling their IT networks and risking lives. 

As Windows XP and its weakness in its security pinpointed as the door for the virus to enter, now is the time to update your computer software and systems.

Map of countries hit by ransomware attack

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is when a virus locks users files and demands payment to allow access back onto the affected computer, sometimes demanding fees from $300 to $1000 to release the block. 

How does Ransomware spread?

The virus is typically packaged with installation files pretending to be an official software update. For example updates from software like Adobe Acrobat, Java and Flash Player.  After infecting your computer, the malware searches for files with JPG, XLS, PNG, DOC and PPT file extensions and locks them from being accessed. As these files are usually important images and documentation, so there is a good chance the hacker will encrypt a file that you need.

How can we protect our computers from another ransomware attack?

Firstly, do not ever download software updates from sites which are not reputable or from the official site for the software; always check the official site for new releases. Websites aren’t able to detect outdated software without asking you to give permission to read your hard drive.

Next, always keep your anti-virus software up to date. Anti-virus software companies are always releasing updates which will help to keep your computers up to date and safe from malware. 

Next, try and use the latest version of software where possible for your computer and its software. Recently, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows Vista and Windows XP. This means that Microsoft no longer provides automatic fixes, updates or online technical assistance for this software. So this leaves you and your company wide open for future attacks from all viruses, spyware and other malicious software, including ransomware.

Message on Windows website about Ransomware attack

Finally, where possible always try and backup your files, the reason being you can’t be held ransom for data you hold somewhere else. Use an external device or use a cloud-based backup system like – Google Drive, Microsofts Skydrive or Dropbox. Sometimes you can forget to backup your files onto a hard disk you need to plug in, but a lot of these cloud-based systems backup your files in the background automatically.

Useful LinksProtect Your Pc from Ransomware