“WannaCry” Virus. Are You Safe?

Computer infected with WannaCry

News outlets have been reporting a computer virus spreading rapidly across the globe. The malware, dubbed “WannaCry”, is expected to hit U.S. computers today. Are you safe?

What is WannaCry?

WannaCry news headlines

WannaCry in the news

WannaCry is a type of malware (virus) called ransomware. Ransomware encrypts a computer’s files, preventing them from being opened. Then, a payment message locks the computer down and threatens deletion of all the files unless a fee is paid. This particular virus asks for $300.

You should never pay the ransom. There’s no guarantee your files will be returned.

How Does It Spread?

It has primarily spread through email. Over 200,000 users in Europe and Asia are affected, as of this writing.

Who Is Vulnerable?

Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10 are affected. In other words, if you’re not using a Mac, your computer can be attacked by WannaCry. Sorry Windows users, but don’t worry! Keep reading to learn how to protect yourself.

How to Protect Yourself

WannaCry is actually not new; Microsoft patched the security hole used by the virus back in March. Follow these steps to make sure your computer is protected.

Update Your Antivirus

Norton Security Suite warning screen

Don’t ignore your antivirus messages!

If you’ve had computer service with me, you have antivirus on your computer that is set to automatically update. Rest easy!

For those who aren’t sure, double-click on your antivirus icon (e.g. Norton Security Suite, Avast)  and there should be a prominent “update” option, because staying up to date is essential for antivirus to work properly.

Update Windows

Find the section for your operating system and follow the steps.

Windows 7

Windows  8 & 10

Windows 10 update screen

You may see this message when your computer is turning on/off.

Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 are configured for automatic updates from the start. As long as your computer is in sleep mode and not shut down, updates will install overnight.

 

Back up Your Files

Seagate backup drive

Recommended product: Seagate external driveBuy on Amazon

A backup is always good to have, even if you don’t think there’s much on your computer. The stress, inconvenience and expense of getting hit with malware can be avoided if you simply have a backup of your files.

This requires an external storage device (usually an external hard drive). Windows computers have built in backup software called Windows Backup (Windows 7) and File History (Windows 10).

Call a Professional

Of course, I’d be happy to help you in-person or over remote support! Simply call (561) 809-2218 or fill out this contact form to set an appointment. Don’t wait for your computer to be hit by ransomware. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

 

 

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