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Excalibur IT Solutions provides onsite and remote IT Support Services to homes and businesses in: Berowra, Mount Kuring-Gai, across the Hornsby Shire and North Shore of Sydney. Our Blog, The Messenger, is a value-add service for current and prospective customers and the broader community. With The Messenger we aim to keep you up to date with industry news, security threats, and bring you hints, tips and tricks on how to get the best out of your Computer.

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WannaCry? Get Serious About Security

WannaCry? Get Serious About Security

Wanna Cry? You might do if you get this nasty Ransomware which spread globally at an unprecedented rate over the weekend.Within a very short space of time the NHS in the UK was brought to its knees; along with a large number of Russian, Chinese and US private and public institutions causing them to be crippled most of the day.

This particular strain of ransomware leveraged an NSA designed tool for Cyberwarfare which was allegedly appropriated by a group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers before being weaponized as what has been dubbed as the WannaCry/WCRY ransomware.

WannaCry takes advantage of a recently disclosed Microsoft vulnerability known as "EternalBlue" which was patched back in March, however many Windows users did not have the patch installed, allowing rapid distribution across hundreds of thousands of users across the globe.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a particularly insidious form of malicious software, which infiltrates your computer and once activated proceeds to lock-down and encrypt your data-files rendering them inaccessible.  

Ransomware is designed to spread rapidly to connected devices such as backup drives, thumb drives and home / business networks; and only needs to be activated on one device which then releases it across all interconnected devices.  Ransomware spreads, unseen in the background, and the first most people know about it is when their files have already been locked down and the ransom demand is presented. 

Who does it affect?

This particular ransomware targets anyone running Windows 10, or any prior version of Windows (including 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP, Server etc.) that have not been patched; so it is important to ensure your computer, and all machines on your network, are patched and up to date.

How do you stay safe?

When it comes to cyber security, these days, safety is relative.However, there are steps you can, and should, take to reduce the risk and minimize the impact of malware and ransomware.

Some common-sense steps to protecting yourself and your business include:

  • Ensure you have a reliable, and tested, backup strategy in place and that your backup device is not left connected to the computer or network
  • Ensure your computer systems are patched regularly and that any security related hot-fixes have been deployed to all machines.
  • Invest in some decent Internet Security and ensure it is properly configured.FREE Internet Security is better than nothing, but not much.
  • Install an Adblocker to prevent pop-up adverts.Most ads are irritating, but whilst some are clean, there are others which are malicious, and can unload a malware payload onto your system (hence the term Malvertising which has been doing the rounds in recent years).
  • If you operate a "guest network" for your clients / customers ensure it is isolated from other devices on your network…do not just give them your Wireless password.
  • Practice Safe Internet.That means everything from avoiding bad-sites, dodging online advertising, being hyper-vigilant of Email attachments and links; and learning to spot fake / phishing Emails and websites.

I'm OK, I have a MAC

Don't be fooled by the old marketing flannel that having a MAC means you're immune to malware, viruses, and ransomware. Whilst the current iteration of WannaCry is targeted at Windows devices there have been numerous instances of viruses and ransomware targeting MACs in recent years.  The days of MAC Complacency are over. 

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid…

Sorry, couldn't resist with the recent release of the new Alien film :) Anyway, in closing, whilst you might, and hopefully do, dodge a bullet with WannaCry be aware that much of the time viruses are distributed in dark circles as "tool-kits" which lead to rapid re-invention and re-release; and in recent years there has been an exponential growth in the number of new viruses doing the rounds, which means things are only going to get worse.

Be Smart, Be Safe

In the cyber-world staying safe is about recognizing your weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and fixing them.

If you've been hit by malware, viruses, or ransomware then Excalibur IT can handle the clean-up and remediation for you. We can also help keep you safe by assessing your current backup, and Internet Security strategy to minimize the threats to your business and personal data; so, give us a call to discuss a security solution that is right for you.

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