Even if you're not all over tech news, you're probably somewhat aware of a large-scale hacking attack known as 'WannaCry'.
So far, an estimated 200,000 computers in 150 countries have been affected, across a really broad range of industries including hospitals, banks and telcos.
WannaCry utilises a type of "ransomware" (and ransomware is a specific kind of malware) to take advantage of a flaw in Microsoft Windows.
WannaCry will hold your computer hostage until you pay the ransom. Specifically, it will encrypt (read: scramble) all your data and load a screen with a timeframe for you to pay the ransom. The price will increase over time and if you fail to pay up your files are destroyed.
I wrote last year about some of the reasons why you should keep your apps up to date and attacks like this are a reminder why we must keep our operating systems up to date as well.
I know, I know, it's not exciting, it's not sexy and it's like being told to eat your vegetables. But security researchers believe this is only the start and that new versions will be released shortly.
So, what to do?
Step 1. Make sure your device's operating software is up to date.
Even though this current attack is limited to Windows machines, there's no reason for the rest of us to be smug.
If you are on a Windows device and have automatic updates enabled, you will have gotten the patch for WannaCry in March. If not, the Microsoft website will help you find the right patch for your machine.
If you don't know what version your machine is running, go to the Start button, type in "About Your PC", to find the version, edition and system type.
Here's some other helpful links:
- Keep your Window computer up to date
- Keeping your Mac up to date
- Keeping your iPhone or iPad up to date
- Keeping your Android device up to date
Step 2. Back up your machine.
If you are a victim of this attack, wiping your machine and installing a backup is going to be your best and currently the only option aside from paying the ransom.
DON'T PAY THE RANSOM! Paying the ransom = giving your money to cyber criminals and the odds of getting your files back is actually very small.
Obviously, you won't be able to install a backup from your machine so you'll need to have everything backed up to the cloud or to an external hard drive.
So what you waitin' for?? Go do your backups now and continue to back your machine up on a regular basis.
You're welcome ;)