Recently, there’s been a piece of malicious software (aka malware) that’s been circulating around the worldwide web called WannaCry. It’s a particularly nasty piece of malware, because you could lose access to all of your computer’s files once you get it.
This is particularly bad news if you have an online business in the UK. If all of your business data is in your computer, accidentally getting WannaCry will land you in deep trouble. But how and why?
WannaCry essentially locks up your files.
Once the WannaCry program runs in your computer, it works quite quickly to encrypt your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other important files. Once it’s done, you won’t be able to open them anymore, and it puts up this threatening window on your desktop.
The window asks you to pay $300 worth of Bitcoin (a virtual currency) to get a “decryptor” program that will unlock your files. In other words, it “kidnaps” your files and holds them for ransom. This is the reason why people in the tech community refer to WannaCry as “ransomware”.
The big danger here is, of course, you have no guarantee that you’ll get your files back even if you pay the $300. This, of course, is a valid concern, as the makers of WannaCry just probably want to get as much money out of its victims as possible. You can’t trust them to be true to their word.
As of now, there is no way to recover your files.
Particularly annoying and troubling, I know. But as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. And there are measures you can take to prevent WannaCry from even reaching your computer. Here are three easy tips to get this nasty piece of work away from you.
1. Back up your important files regularly
This is the best way to keep your data safe. You can back them up either offline, in external hard drives or flash drives, or online, using cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive. Both have free versions, so you don’t have to worry about paying a huge sum of money (take that, WannaCry). If you’re particularly cautious, you can have backups both online and offline. You can never be too careful when it comes to your most important files.
2. Do not open strange email attachments
This is a very common way of getting malware: email attachments. So if you aren’t expecting anything important to come through your email, don’t bother opening any of those attachments. If they claim to come from the government, a colleague, a client, or someone else you know, that’s when you should be more suspicious. To be on the safe side, contact the sender first and ask them if they really did send an email with an important attachment to you. More often than not, you’ll find that they didn’t. Only open attachments that you’re sure are legitimate.
3. Keep your operating system updated
Whether you’re using Windows or Mac, keep them always up to date. Malware like WannaCry usually take advantage of loopholes in the code of an operating system to wreak havoc. Software updates keep those holes plugged, so the malware no longer can exploit them. Usually updates don’t take very long, but in any case it’s wise to schedule them to run when you’re not using your computer, like on weekends or in the middle of the night.
Take these precautions to keep your data safe, because you really don’t want to lose them. More so if they’re essential data to keep your online business in the UK up and running!
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