What is WannaCry?
First and foremost, let’s clarify exactly what WannaCry is. This malware is a scary type of trojan virus called “ransomware.” As the name suggests, the virus in effect holds the infected computer hostage and demands that the victim pay a ransom in order to regain access to the files on his or her computer.
What exactly does WannaCry do?
RansomWare like WannaCry works by encrypting most or even all of the files on a user’s computer. Then, the software demands that a ransom be paid in order to have the files decrypted. In the case of WannaCry specifically, the software demands that the victim pays a ransom of $300 in bitcoins at the time of infection. If the user doesn’t pay the ransom without three days, the amount doubles to $600. After seven days without payment, WannaCry will delete all of the encrypted files and all data will be lost.
How can I protect myself from WannaCry?
Regardless of which operating system you run, you should install any and all available security updates immediately. Specifically, Windows users with machines that run Windows XP, Windows 8, or Windows Server 2003 should immediately install this security update released on Friday by Microsoft.
What can I do if my computer is infected with WannaCry?
Sadly, there is no fix for WannaCry available at this time. Antivirus companies and cybersecurity experts are hard at work looking for ways to decrypt files on infected computers, but no means of third-party decryption are available right now. Hopefully affected users have backups of their data available, because the only other option right now is to follow the instructions offered in the software to pay the ransom.
India was among the countries worst affected by the Wanna Cry attack, data shared by Kaspersky, a Russian anti-virus company, showed. According to initial calculations performed soon after the malware struck on Friday night, around five per cent of all computers affected in the attack were in India.
What else can I do?
Once ransomware has encrypted your files there’s not a lot you can do. If you have a backup of the files you should be able to restore them after cleaning the computer, but if not your files could be gone for good.
How long will this attack last?
Ransomware often has a short shelf life. As anti-virus vendors cotton on to new versions of the malware, they are able to prevent infections originating and spreading, leading to developers attempting “Big Bang” introductions like the one currently under way.
Will they get away with it?
Bitcoin, the payment medium through which the hackers are demanding payment, is difficult to trace, but not impossible, and the sheer scale of the attack means that law enforcement in multiple countries will be looking to see if they can follow the money back to the culprits.