After hearing so many blood-curdling headlines about WannaCry ransomware by now, it is obvious that every Windows PC user has become more concerned about protecting his/her system. Also known as WannaCrypt, WeCry, WanaCryptor, Wana Decryptor, or WeCryptor, the global ransomware attack started on Friday and hit hundreds of computers worldwide.
The massive WannaCry attack left victims locked out of their systems with an assurance of restored access if $300 was paid in digital currency Bitcoin and a threat of destroyed files if the demanding ransom is not met.
Over the weekend, the WannaCry ransomware attack slowed down after discovering a ‘Kill Switch’ in its code, but it has since been upgraded without the kill switch, allowing it to grow further. It has targeted around 2, 00,000 organizations in 150 countries, leaving everything ranging from businesses and governments to academic institutions, hospitals, banks, and warehouses affected.
Although it might seem to be an issue for only commerce, governments, and institutions, individuals are at risk too as WannaCry targets a Windows OS flaw in older versions that have not been patched. Fortunately, there are some fairly simple tips you can follow to protect yourself from this global WannaCry ransomware cyber attack. Here are the main ones:
Before we tell you how to protect yourself against WannaCry attack, let’s see which versions of Windows get affected by it:
Which are Windows Versions Affected?
The massive global attack exploits a vulnerability in older Windows operating systems, namely:
- Windows XP
- Windows Server 2003
- Windows 8
In case you’re making use of a more recent Windows version and it is up to date with the latest system update, you should not be vulnerable to the current iteration of the WannaCry ransomware:
- Windows Vista
- Windows 7
- Windows Server 2008
- Windows Server 2008 R2
- Windows Server 2012
- Windows Server 2012 R2
- Windows 8.1
- Windows 10
- Windows Server 2016
However, if you haven’t been keeping these latest Windows versions updated, you’ll be just as vulnerable until or unless you do.
Important Hat Tip: If you’re using MacOS, Linux, ChromeOS, or mobile operating systems like Android and iOS then you don’t have to worry about this massive global attack.
Without further ado, let’s walk you through the essential steps to keep your data safe against WannaCry ransomware attack.
Read more at How to Secure Your Smartphone from Hackers
Protect Your Computer from WannaCry Ransomware
Update Your System to the Latest Windows Version Immediately
If you’re making use of the newer Windows versions and you’ve kept your system up to date with automatic updates, you should’ve received the fix back in March.
In the wake of this ransomware attack, Microsoft issued rare patches on the older Windows versions that it no longer formally supports. Here are these security patches which you can download from its official website:
- Windows 8 x86
- Windows 8 x64
- Windows XP SP2 x64
- Windows XP SP3 x86
- Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86
- Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64
- Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86
To visit the full download page for all versions of Windows, simply click here.
Turn Windows Update On if it’s Disabled
As earlier iterations had a tendency to auto-install even if you were doing some important work on your PC, so it’s very common for users to disable Microsoft’s automatic updates. With the new Windows 10 Creators Update, the company largely fixed the auto-install issue. If you’ve disabled the automatic updates on your system, go to the Control Panel and turn Windows update on.
Download a Dedicated Ransomware Blocker
The best protection against WannaCry ransomware is to install a dedicated ransomware blocker on your system. If you’re using one of best antivirus solutions then don’t assume it to protect yourself from ransomware attack, especially if it’s an outdated version. Most of the major system security suites didn’t add ransomware blocking until now.
Are you unsure if you’re protected? Simply navigate to your installed antivirus Settings and see if there’s any mention of ransomware. Alternatively, do some web search, know what the things to look for in antivirus software are, and finally install a dedicated anti-ransomware utility on your PC.
Block Port 445 for Extra Safety
Warning for Monday: If you turn on a system without the MS17-010 patch and TCP port 445 open, your system can be ransomwared.
— MalwareTech (@MalwareTechBlog) May 15, 2017
According to MalwareTech’s security analyst, blocking of TCP port 445 can help protect your system from WannaCry ransomware if you haven’t patched your OS yet.
Keep Watching for Mutations
Just because your system has an OS patch doesn’t mean you’ll always be on WannaCry ransomware protection. As per researchers, new variations of the ransomware have popped up without the Achilles heel and bearing the name Uiwix.
Be Aware of Suspicious Emails and Websites
To safeguard your PC from this global cyber attack, be sure not to click on the suspicious links in emails and on websites.
What if You are Already a Victim?
At the moment, it seems that there’s no way to decrypt your files for free. Therefore, many organizations and individuals have often ended up paying the ransom if their systems are already locked down. However, experts recommend victims of ransomware attacks to never pay the fee as it encourages attackers and may not result in files being recovered.
You may also like: How to Register Avast Free Antivirus 2017 for 1-Year Free License
Cloud Storage May Help
In case you’re using a cloud backup tool, you may be able to restore your WannaCry-encrypted files by accessing their earlier versions. The cloud-storage service Dropbox keeps snapshots of all changes made to files in the past 30 days.