We have written several times before about the devastating results caused by ransomware hacking (see, for example, 1, 2, 3). “Ransomware is malware. The hackers demand payment, often via Bitcoin or prepaid credit card, from victims in order to regain access to an infected device and the data stored on it.” [Ransomware: The Smart Person’s Guide, by James Sanders]
Now, we are under the worst global cyberattack involving ransomware to date. On Friday May 12, 2017, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger reported for the New York Times that:
“Hackers began exploiting malicious software stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency and executed damaging cyberattacks. This amounted to an audacious global blackmail attempt spread by the Internet. By late Friday, attacks had spread to more than 74 nations. Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm, said Russia was worst-hit, followed by Ukraine, India, and Taiwan. Reports also came from Latin America and Africa. The attacks appeared to be the largest ransomware assault on record, but the scope of damage was hard to measure. It was not clear if victims were paying ransom, which began at about $300 to unlock individual computers, or even if those who did pay would regain access to their data. Transmitted via E-mail, the malicious software demanded ransom before users could be let back in — with a threat that data would be destroyed if demands were not met.”
“A global cyberattack spread to thousands more computers on Monday as workers logged in at the start of a new workweek. Universities, hospitals, businesses, and daily life were disrupted, but no catastrophic breakdowns were reported. In Europe, where the cyberattack first emerged, officials said it appeared that a second wave — based on copycat variants of the original software — had not yet materialized. New disruptions were most apparent in Asia, where many workers had already left on Friday when the attack occurred. China reported disruptions at nearly 40,000 organizations, including 4,000 academic institutions, figures that experts say are likely to be low estimates, given the prevalence of pirated software.”
Also today, Statista’s Dyfed Loesche notes that: “Ransomware can make you want to cry. A malicious program called ‘WannaCry’ has affected 200.000 people or organizations in 150 countries since Friday. Data by Symantec show that almost every industrial sector has been affected by ransomware in recent years. However, some types of companies are more vulnerable or more often targeted by cybercriminals trying to extort money for data than others. The analysis shows that the services sector was by far most affected by ransomware in 2016.”
Check out Statista’s synopsis. Click the chart for a larger view.
What Can YOU Do to Better Protect Against Ransomware?
Unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do to 100% protected against malicious ransomware. However, there are steps we can take to better safeguard our computers, phones, tablets, and other smart devices. Here are several tips, first, an infographic from Europol (click the image for a larger version) and, then, a few links:
- Protecting Your Digital Life in 8 Easy Steps
- Ransomware: 5 Dos and Don’ts
- Do’s and Don’ts When Dealing with Ransomware