Avoiding The WannaCry Ransomware Attack

Posted by ddeardorff
May 16, 2017
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WannaCry Ransomware
On Friday the WannaCry ransomware attack  affected over 75,000 machines in 99 countries across Europe.  This was one of the largest and most damaging cyberattacks in history.  This attack affected hospitals, major companies and other government agencies.
Ransomware attacks are usually through email spam.  Messages are typically fake invoices, job offers or other lures which are sent to random email addresses.  The email contains a file and once clicked, this is how the virus spreads.  Once this file is opened, the virus spreads on internal networks which locks down all files and asks the owner to pay money to regain control of them.

In order to protect yourself from these ransomware attacks, you should make sure:

  1. You keep all of your computers, including your servers up to date on the latest updates and patches from Microsoft.
    To check if your system has all the patches on a Windows PC open the Start Menu and click on Settings > Update & Security settings > Windows Update. Here, press on the Check for updates button. If any updates are available, they will be offered to you.
    Update Windows
  2. Make sure you are using a virus scanner that has the ability to detect ransomware.  Also, you need to make sure that you are keeping the virus definitions up to date.
    As there are so many excellent antivirus solutions available we can’t specifically recommend one however it’s important that you check the features and what’s covered by the one you use.  To assist you, here are links to the top 5 antivirus solution features lists or sections of ransomware coverage:
    Bit Defender
    Norton
    Kapersky
    Avast
    ESET
  3. Use common sense.  Make sure you train your staff to not open any emails or attachments that they are unsure of.  The best policy is that if they are unsure of what it is, do not open it.
    Ransomware is a type of malware which is a broad term that refers to a variety of malicious programs. Several of the most common types of malware include adware, bots, bugs, rootkits, spyware, Trojan horses, viruses, and worms. There are well over 50 different file extensions that can be used to distribute malware so a simple warning to avoid specific extensions is difficult if not impossible given that many are the extensions for commonly used programs. Rather than keeping your eyes out for specific extensions people are advised to think before they act. Cybercriminals are notorious for including malicious attachments and links in emails that appear to come from friends, reputable organizations, or other trusted sources however the content of the email is usually very limited if not absent and generic in it’s context.  If there’s nothing in the email to specific you know the sender apart of the reply email address you should check with that person before opening a link or file. Also, check the domain that the email is coming from. Cybercriminals will create fake web pages that look real but the domain is not.
  4. Backup.  Make sure you are keeping a backup of all of your data and make sure this is stored off site and not on a local or network drive.
    We offer an online backup service but there are many that are available. You can also backup to a removable drive to take offsite.

The biggest obstacle to security is generally your staff and yourself. Being aware of how malware is spreads and taking the appropriate action to avoid it is the biggest action any medical practice can take to avoid being held ransom.

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