A new ‘Petya’ ransomware attack has hit the globe, affecting several corporations, airports and government departments. The massive cyber attack that initially hit Ukraine has spread across the other parts of the world including Russia, US, Australia, India and the Middle East.
Petya ransomware infects Windows PCs, and encrypts all the user data, and the computer displays a note demanding a ransom payment of $300 Bitcoins to gain access. The international cyberattack is similar to a recent WannacCry ransomware that crippled over 300,000 computers worldwide. It is unclear who was behind the new cyberattack.
The new attack is believed to have used the same National Security Agency hacking tool, Eternal Blue, that was used in the ‘WannaCry’ crisis in May. Such attacks are not just limited to large companies, but can also affect individuals. Here are some ways to protect your PCs from ransomware.
Back up your files
Backup all your files, including documents, photos and videos. The best way to do so is to backup all the data in an external hard drive that isn’t connected to an internet. Also, do a cloud based backup, and make sure the password for this account is a strong one. Keep two-step verification on for whatever cloud service you are using. This will ensure that even if your machine is affected by a ransomware, you won’t lose your important data.
Use Antivirus software
An antivirus software can stop the ransomware being downloaded into your PC. The most basic, malware gets filtered out using an antivirus program. If you are already using an antivirus software on the computer, make sure it is up to date.
Install regular Windows updates
Run Windows update to get the latest software on the computer. Microsoft keeps on pushing the latest updates to fix bugs time-to-time. It is therefore advisable for an individual or a large corporation to update the machines to the latest software as soon as it is released.
In case of EternalBlue vulnerability, Microsoft has pushed out the security patch for Windows XP as well, a system it doesn’t support any more. Users should install the update if they have not already done so because this one poses a serious security problem.
Protect yourself from unsolicited emails, apps
Hackers have been spreading ransomware attacks through emails and apps. Security experts warn users against opening emails that seem unfamiliar or from an unknown sender. It is important not to open those emails or click on links embedded in these messages. Also, never download an app that has not been verified from the official store, be it iOS or Google Play Store.
Do not pay the ransom
Do not pay the ransom demanded by these hackers. There’s no guarantee hackers will return data. In case of the latest Petya attack, hackers don’t have access to the email id that they were using to check on the Bitcoin transactions. The German email service provider has shut down access to their account.
Also there’s no confirmation the hackers can actually decrypt the data. Still, sometimes large corporations pay up the money in hopes of restoring the data. Cyber-security firms have warned users against paying the ransom to these hackers. There is no evidence of the hackers giving files back.