Ransomware and WannaCry: The Biggest Cyber-Attack in Recent History


Last Friday, the world saw one of the largest Ransomware attacks in history. Named "WannaCry," this cyber-attack hit over 200,000 organisations in over 100 countries and was successful against hospitals and telecommunications companies amongst many others. Sadly for the NHS, this led to operations being cancelled and patients being turned away from A&E.

End users who suffered from this attack were blackmailed into paying a 'ransom fee' or else their files would be deleted. At a time where Ransomware is at its' most prominent, it is worth gaining a knowledge and understanding of how to prevent it.

Ransomware: Fact File

What is ransomware? Malicious software that ‘holds a device to ransom,’ such as a computer, tablet or smartphone and then demands a ransom fee to unlock it.

Where did ransomware originate? The first documented case appeared in 2005 in the United States, but quickly spread around the world.                                                                                                                                                                                

How does it affect a computer? The software is normally contained within an attachment to an email that disguises itself as something innocent. Once opened it encrypts the hard drive, making it impossible to access or retrieve anything stored on there – such as photographs, documents or music.

How can you protect yourself? Anti-virus software (some available through Westcon partners) can protect your machine. Although it is worth noting, this isn’t guaranteed protection forever. Hackers are always working on ways around protection, with experts warning that new threats will continue to emerge. 

Our UK Security division is your leading value-added distributor of networking and security technologies and professional services, providing the expertise and vast portfolio of products which you could be looking for.

How much are people expected to pay? The ransom can vary. Victims of a 2014 attack in the UK were charged £500. In this most recent attack devices were being charged $300 in Bitcoin. However, even after paying this there is no guarantee you’ll even get your data back.

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