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New cyber attack again demonstrates the importance of updates

Once again a large-scale ransomware attack has affected victims worldwide. The attack began in Ukraine, targeting banks, hospitals and government departments. There have also been victims in Belgium, including shipping company Maersk, the food company Mondelez and drugs manufacturer MSD.

The NotPetya ransomware virus blocks computers and demands a $300 ransom to set them free. Unlike other forms of ransomware, the hard drive is blocked immediately, instead of encrypting the infected files, one by one.

Again, a security flaw in Windows has been exploited

Like the WannaCry attack last month, NotPetya exploits a security weakness in older versions of Windows. An update to patch this weakness was released in the wake of WannaCry.

The fact that there have again been victims demonstrates that a great many personal users and business have ignored the advice to update their security. That’s one piece of advice they should have taken.

 

How to protect your computer and data

To avoid falling prey to ransomware yourself, follow these tips:

  • Never open an attachment or link in an e-mail without considering it carefully first. Fake e-mails that spread ransomware can be very convincing.
  • Install all of the security updates sent to you to protect your devices.
  • Make regular backups of all your data. Keep at least one copy on a physical medium that is not connected to the Internet. That way your data will be kept safe, even if there is an attack.

What happens if it’s too late?

If you have been targeted, make sure you don’t pay! Report the attack to the police and visit NoMoreRansom.org. You may find the decryption keys you need there to unlock your files again.