WannaCry Update

Here's a quick summary of what you should know about WannaCry, the global ransomware cyberattack that many of you have been asking about.  CNN has more in-depth info here.

What does it do? 
WannaCry attack locks down all the files on an infected computer and then demands $300 to unlock them. Here's what the screen looks like on an infected computer:

Who is affected?
Windows computers ONLY (not Macs) without recent updates installed. This is more common in companies where updates can mess up specialized software, and where the attack can spread across a network.

How to protect yourself--because this won't be the last one
  1. Install updates.  No excuses.
  2. BACK UP: Make sure that all the data you care about is being backed up (NOT synced--Dropbox and iCloud are NOT true backup) 
    • automatically;
    • frequently, 
    • that your backup system is separate from your computer (not on the same network)
    • and that you understand what your backup system is in case of disaster.
  3. Don't click on email links unless you are expecting them and know they are safe, INCLUDING email from people you know.
  4. If you mistakenly click on something you're worried about, immediately disconnect the computer from the internet. if you aren't sure how to do that, turn off the computer completely and call an expert. 
  5. Consider using file encryption, a VPN, and secure messaging for instant messages.

If you ever encounter a ransomware attack, DON'T PANIC! And for everyone else's sake, please pay the jerks only as the very last resort. Let's not encourage them if we can avoid it.

Alison Holtzschue
and the computers dot mom team