When the recent Wanna Cry ransomware attack was launched, I received perhaps a dozen or so emails asking what this was all about and how could they protect themselves from being hit. On June 27th, reports of yet another ransomware attack variant of Petya had been launched and was hitting in 64 countries with most of the infections occurring outside the USA. It hit individuals as well as companies and government systems.
With this latest attack, some are questioning whether the hackers were really after ransom money, but rather just out to get the enjoyment from creating mayhem. Whatever the reason, there were victims in abundance per reports. Since this latest outbreak, I have received a total of 37 emails seeking an opinion and advice
For those who are highly technical, for all you need to know about the latest Petya variation attack click on the following link which will take you to Microsoft’s TechNet blog site at MSFT – Petya Explained .
The attacks hit individual consumers as well as government and company systems which mostly were running old versions of Microsoft Windows OS software such as XP and Vista. Microsoft issued security updates weeks and months ago as needed for all of the Windows variants including XP and Vista to licensed software holders. Obviously, those who were hit with these attacks run mostly older versions and/or avoid taking automatic updates , even security updates. perhaps because they are oblivious to the fact that hackers are lurking around and or perhaps the software they are running is unlicensed.
Hackers continue to ramp up their sophistication and capabilities and look for opportunities especially in unsupported operating systems or those with exploit exposures. You must be on guard at all times – starting with some simple steps which really have not changed in many years.
Never open an email or an attachment from a source you do not recognize with 100% certainty
- Stay current with all software updates. Using the automatic update option is highly recommended
- Never run software which is no longer supported – it is highly recommended to run with Windows software releases which are no more than one version back
- Always run a malware and anti-virus package from firms such as AVG, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, Trend or whichever – nice to use the FREE versions, but they do not provide all protections available as these latest ransomware attacks. Cough up the few bucks for the paid annual subscription license. Be sure you have automatic updates turned on for your package of choice at all times
- Microsoft provides their own security software included within the Windows Operating system – Windows Defender. Be sure it is always turned on and set for automatic updates
- Strongly consider running two or three security packages concurrently – typically most of the packages tend to play well together in the security sandbox. For my systems, I run Defender, Malwarebytes and AVG concurrently