What if your computer were held hostage?

Published 12:22 am Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tips to avoid problems caused by ransomware currently circling globe

While they haven’t seen it here locally – yet – brothers Robert and Madison Copeland are raising awareness of the WannaCry ransomware released Friday.

The brothers own Copeland Computer Solutions.

The WannaCry cyberattack has hit some 150 countries and infected 300,000 computers since Friday.

The victims have been hospitals, universities, govern

ment agencies and manufacturers.

CNN reported that the Department of Homeland Security had a small number of infrastructure systems that

were hit by the attack.

Globally, FedEx had some interference over the weekend and Nissan was also targeted. Both businesses were functioning normally on Monday.

Robert Copeland explained what ransomware is.

“Basically it’s a file that is downloaded to a computer that freezes the computer until you pay a ransom,” he said. “Every computer running Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 or Windows Server 2008 through 2016 that automatically installs Windows updates is already protected from the WannaCry ransomware by a March update.”

Copeland said computers running Windows XP, Windows Serve 2003 or Windows 8 that is connected to a network can be protected using a Microsoft-provided patch.

Copeland said that the malware spread has stopped for the original ransomware released Friday.

“However, there will likely be other waves,” he said. “Do not open any emails from senders you do not know, and if you get an attachment in an email, call and verify with the sender that they actually sent that attachment. Many of these attacks come through opening attachments from fake FedEx, UPS or Apple emails. For businesses, as a further precaution, employees should not use their work email addresses for personal use such as making personal Amazon purchases, using Facebook or signing in for an Apple ID on a non-work phone.”

What if you are infected by the WannaCry ransomware?

“See if you have any backups of your important documents saved to an external hard drive or USB flash drive,” he said. “Otherwise, you may have to reinstall your operating system. Paying the ransom is not advisable.”