Ransomware Attack
Written by Charlie Palmer on 10/08/2018

What is the WannaCrypt Ransomware Attack? 

WannaCrypt Ransomware is a malware programme that blocks access to computer data and demands money to release it. The software effectively password protects your files with a hugely complicated password and asks you for money in exchange for the password. Unfortunately once you have been affected by this type of attack there is not much you can do to recover files. Even paying the ransom does not guarantee your files will be successfully decrypted. Prevention is the best method of defence, please see our 5 top tips below.   


This attack has affected several large organisations including the NHS, Renault and Nissan, who are using severely out of date, Windows XP operating systems. 

Support for Windows XP ended in 2014 therefore is highly recommended that you upgrade to a more up to date and secure operating system.


How can I protect myself from these types of attack? 


1. Run Windows Update to ensure you have the latest software updates and patches installed. Please don’t postpone or cancel updates manually if asked.  


2. Back up all important data on your computer – if your company couldn’t function without it, it needs to be backed up. Store these backups separately from your computer, either using a cloud solution or an external disk drive or flash drive. Keep backup drives disconnected from computers when not in use. If you suspect your computer has been compromised, disconnect immediately and do not reconnect until the computer has been completely rebuilt. If a backup drive is connected to an infected computer this could also become encrypted rendering your backups useless.  


3. Make you have anti-virus software installed and it is up-to-date, use this software to scan your computer for any malicious programs.  

Free Antivirus solution from Microsoft - https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-defender#enable-windows-defender-panel 


4. Be very wary of suspicious emails particularly those with attachments. If you are not expecting an email from someone give them a call to check the attachment is legitimate. Key things to look for Include:  Spelling mistakes, Poor English, Vague salutations, Lengthy links, Unusual email addresses,  Urgent emails, Threating/Urgent language.  If you are in any doubt, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Delete the email straight away if you are suspicious. 


5. Upgrade your computer operating system. This may have a cost attached but this is definitely worth it as more up to date operating systems are much less likely to have unpatched vulnerabilities. It may also be worth considering buying new IT equipment which should come with the latest operating system (Windows 10) pre-installed.


Before upgrading please ensure you have a licence key and the disks/install files for all of the software you use (e.g. Microsoft Office, Sage etc.). You will also need to ensure all software is compatible with windows 10. 


If you are currently using Windows 7 or Windows 8 you may be able to get a free upgrade using this link https://www.cnet.com/uk/how-to/microsoft-windows-10-free-upgrade-offer-assistive-features/


Windows 10 Home can also be purchased here - https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/store/d/windows-10-home/D76QX4BZNWK4/1NT3?icid=Cat-Windows-mosaic_linknav-1-WindowsHome-042517-en_GB



What are IFAC doing to protect themselves?


Here at IFAC we do not have any computers using Windows XP. All of our computers have up to date operating systems and anti-virus software installed. We also perform regular backups of our data which are stored independently from our desktop computers and laptops. 


Our servers are also regularly updated with security patches and upgrades. Servers also utilise a monitoring solution, which immediately notifies us of any problems, outages and unusual activity. Personal Information within our Bat server is also protected with a high level of encryption.


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