Recently, a virus became so famous that even the WhatsApp forwards about it went viral. But wait, the first thing we must know is that it is not a virus, it’s a worm. A worm is a category of malware which can spread on its own and this was the very basic quality of the Wannacry ransomware that made it so lethal, as it can spread on its own over the computer network and infect all your files and lock them so that you can no longer have access to those files until you pay the ransom.
The attack started on Friday, 12 May 2017 and within a day it was reported to have infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries. India was also affected by this ransomware, though not as bad as other countries but still, it spread at scale.
WHAT IS A RANSOMWARE?
A ransomware is a malware which locks all your files within your computer system and asks for a ransom in the bitcoin currency (BTC) (current value 1 BITCOIN=₹ 145233.84) and Wannacry demands a ransom of around 300-600 BTC.
So here are some unknown facts about Wannacry which everyone must know:-
- WINDOWS: – It takes advantage of Microsoft’s Windows vulnerability.
- NSA: – National Security Agency built an exploit called Eternal Blue which was leaked online and hackers took advantage of this.
- IT’S A WORM NOT VIRUS: – It belongs to the worm category of malware not virus, it can spread itself over the network whereas viruses can destroy files too.
- IT WORKS LIKE LOCK AND KEY: – It’s simply like someone has locked your computer and you don’t have the key to open the lock, and they ask ransom to provide the key. Thus once the ransom is paid the data which has been encrypted by the hacker, the hacker will provide the key and you may have access to your data.
- FREE SOLUTIONS: – Now the Ethical Hackers have developed free software to regain control to your data or decrypt your compromised data for free, so now there is no need to panic.
HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST IT
- UPDATE WINDOWS: – You must always use genuine windows/mac and update it on a regular basis, as the major reason behind such widespread attack was a large number system which were not regularly updated.
- AVOID LINKS FROM UNKNOWN SOURCES: – One must not click on links/emails from unknown sources as it may contain malicious files which might affect your systems.
- LICENSED ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE: – Usage of proper licensed and updated virus software will provide safety against infected pen drives and other entry-level threats which might compromise your PC/SYSTEM.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
The main target of this hacker group were government institutions such as hospitals, police stations, banks etc. as they have some sensitive data which when compromised might have serious implications thus they are at risk.
But being a student one is not at such high risk of attack, but still, one must have awareness about these attacks. As it goes, prevention is always better than cure.
Contributed by: Anurag Manik
An aware citizen and CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker by EC-Council)