The most important piece of advice when it comes to the ransom behind the virus that is attacking computers all over the world is: Don’t pay the ransom.
WannaCry has targeted over 150 countries and has infected hundreds of thousands of computers all over the world. Windows has released an update that will help keep this virus at bay.
The virus gets onto your computer and blocks access to all the files on the system. Victims of the virus are asked to pay a ransom if they wish to have access to their data again. The virus then asks for $300 in an untraceable digital currency called “Bitcoin” to get these files back.
For some people, that might seem like a good deal for irreplaceable data and they are more than willing to shell out the dough. Unfortunately, the way WannaCry is designed, it is unlikely, even if the victims do pay, that they will ever get their files back.
The hackers behind this program are malicious and thieves, and there is no reason for anyone to think that they would honor their deal and return computer access once they have gained your credit card information.
People targeted should contacted the authorities immediately.
Victims are also expected to contact the criminals for a key to unlock their files, said security expert Prof Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey.
“I very much doubt anyone would return your contact request, bearing in mind the attention that is now on this,” he told the BBC.
“If anyone pays this ransom they are more than likely going to send Bitcoin that will sit in an address for ever more. No point.” The good news is that home users are very unlikely to be affected. WannaCry has so far spread around business networks via a vulnerability in Windows that most home users will have patched, or will not be at risk from anyway.
This is because the vulnerable bit of Windows will either not be installed, or there will not be any other vulnerable computers on their home network. However, for those unfortunate enough to have been hit – be that at work or within an institution – it is probably best to assume that access to any files that were not backed up on a drive disconnected from your computer have now been lost forever. This is why it is so important to back up files on a separate drive or machine regularly.
It is possible to remove WannaCry from your computer once it is there – although the process is not straightforward. As technical support website Bleeping Computer explains, it involves downloading some programs to clean your computer of the infection. However, the author adds that this will not decrypt files encrypted by the ransomware, proving once again that there is no substitute for a good back-up