The world was hit by a cyber fire sale today, right out of the movie Die Hard 4.0. In the last 24 hours, thousands of computers across hundreds of countries have been taken offline due to a ransomware attack. Antivirus provider Avast reported that at least 70,000 computers had been infected by the crippling malware program “WanaCrypt0r 2.0”.

The term “fire-sale” is from the Hollywood movie, Live Free or Die Hard. In the movie, the “Struxnet Worm” was used to cause a full-scale meltdown of all government and private industry technology. Today’s attack targeted a dozen hospitals in England and major companies, including FedEx and Spain’s largest telecom, were targeted.

At least 16 health service hospitals and organizations were affected in England. The British government cyber security arm was working with the NHS and confirmed no patient data had been compromised. Ben Rapp, CEO of IT Networks, a Solar Winds company, stated: “there’s been a lot of ransomware in hospitals, but to see 16 hospitals last time I checked and reports of other people, this problem is the biggest ransom attack we’ve seen yet.”

Ransomware is a form of software Malware. Ransomware takes control of a PC and can encrypt files or lock the computer completely. A message stating how to pay the ransom is normally displayed. Hackers request payment via an anonymous service like Bitcoin payment gateways. The malware is typically spread via email phishing schemes. An email will arrive in your inbox requesting you to open a file. The email may state something like, invoice or tracking number, please open. Once the email or file is opened, the virus begins to slowly lock filesystems and encrypt hard drives.

Hackers typically target home networks or small businesses with Ransomware. The scale of this attack has sent a shockwave through IT security communities. I have personally worked in the IT space over 25 years. I’ve never heard of a Ransomware attack of this magnitude. Details are coming out that the ransomware is primarily affecting Windows-based PCs. This malware is particularly nasty because it is finding holes in networks utilizing window sharing technology.

If you have been infected by Ransomware tell us your story by leaving a comment. Here at ZOBOLT, we work with our clients to ensure this never happens to them. We provide computer repair services, virus removal and malware removal. A firewall with layer 7 deep packet inspection is one way to reduce your malware exporsure. ZOBOLT will install and configure an active firewall for your small business. Our firewall performs Layer 7 inspection to help find phishing emails, before they hit your inbox.

How to Remove Malware and Viruses from Your PC.

Here are three easy steps to take when removing Malware and Viruses from your computer.

Step 1 – Run an online anti-malware tool

These tools are more effective against specific malware infections. We suggest running these tools until you receive confirmation that your system is no longer infected:

Following successful removal of the infection, please consider changing all of your passwords, since they may have been compromised.

Step 2 – Download free Norton Security software

As with other software, ensure that your security software is also up-to-date. If you haven’t, download the Norton Security Suite, click here to download nowMac users click here. This software if FREE for Xfinity customers.

Step 3 – Update your software, browsers, and operating system

Outdated Java and Adobe Flash versions are particularly vulnerable to virus infections.

Also, make sure your computer has the latest version of Operating System (OS). If you haven’t updated your computer in a while, please do so now:

 

 

About Author: I am a communications systems specialist and U.S. Army veteran. My experience includes network switching systems, wireless networks, aerospace networks and consulting. I'm certified on Cisco and Extreme network equipment. I've worked as a network engineer and IT support person for over 20 years. Connect with me on LinkedIn.