New Ransomware Attack a Reminder to Keep PCs Secure
On Tuesday, June 27th a new ransomware attack occurred and if you’ve heard about it in the news you’ll have heard it referred to as GoldenEye, NotPetya or Petya. This latest attack was primarily focused in Europe, most heavily in the Ukraine, but it has affected U.S. companies, most notably pharmaceutical company Merck. This attack may appear similar to the recent WannaCry virus, but is different in several ways.
As of yet a “kill switch” to disable the virus on all infected PCs has not been discovered.
The initial source of the virus appears to be coming from a hacked software update to MeDoc and is limited to infecting computers linked to the same network.
It is encrypting both files and hard drives.
The main point of this attack appears to have destruction and disruption as its intent; the email account set up for ransom payments has been shut down for several days.
The likelihood that these type of attacks will continue at a global level is high. Information was released by hackers in April that makes it much easier for cybercriminals to access computers through vulnerabilities in Microsoft operating systems and infect them with malware and viruses.
Even if it appears that large companies or countries are the target of some of these attacks, individuals can easily get infected by malware or viruses. This means that it continues to be important to take steps to protect your PC. Most importantly, when you get notifications that Microsoft needs to install updates, don’t put it off! While each of these recent attacks has had its own unique attributes, they’ve infected PCs by exploiting outdated Microsoft operating systems.
While it’s important to keep your computer software up-to-date, exercise caution when you receive alerts to update software on your PC. Go out directly to a company’s website to download updates instead of doing it from a third party site. Requiring permission to be granted for programs to make changes to your PC, including installing updates, also helps protect you. You can often set up permission requirements through firewall settings or antivirus software that has this feature.
Be careful when clicking on links. This includes in emails, search engine results, advertising on websites, and links that your friends and family share on social media.
Last but not least, don’t open attachments you’re not expecting. This isn’t just limited to executable files with an extension of .exe. Viruses can also be spread by files that seem harmless, like Microsoft Office documents, so it’s better to exercise caution before opening any attachment.