Action Needed to Stay Safe Online from Ransomware

Action Needed to Stay Safe Online from Ransomware

In May, countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United States were affected by malicious “WannaCrypt” software. The WannaCry ransomware cyberattack is a worldwide software hack that aims at targeting computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems. Through  encrypting data and demanding payments, they can lock you out of your own computer.

Microsoft has been taking numerous steps to protect their systems from this “ransomware.” On March 14th, 2017 they released a security update in attempt to patch and protect customers from this ransomware. They have deployed more than 3,500 security engineers working comprehensively to address cyber security threats. Additionally they have released several security updates to patch any vulnerabilities that may exist. Also, Microsoft opted to assist users with systems that are no longer supported by releasing an emergency security update for users running Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

Ex of a WannaCry Ransomware message on a computer.

The recent attacks demonstrate how vital cybersecurity is to both a company and its consumers. Microsoft vows to assess this attack, ask what lessons we can learn and apply to strengthen our capabilities. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to consistently check for updates on your system, because it is impossible to fight a crime of today with the tools of yesterday. Using this attack as a reminder, even the simplest of things could add an additional line of defense to your device, such as an update.

Microsoft says that we need to use this experience as a wake-up call. We need to collectively treat cyberspace as physical space and add rules onto it. Our best bet is to collectively collaborate in protecting civilians from the possible damages of cyberspace. Through the use of our multiple governments coming together, we can first assess the damages done onto civilians from these exploits. Then we can treat cyberspace as a physical entity and apply rules to it. We need to establish a tech sector where consumers and the government work together to protect against these attacks. We must collaboratively stop WannaCry and anyone who follows in their footsteps. Microsoft is leading the way by committing to do their part.