Protecting yourself from a ransomware attack - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Protecting yourself from a ransomware attack

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CARTERVILLE -- The Cyber Defense Team at John A. Logan College said the "Wanna Cry Malware" hack would have been much smaller if people had updated their computer operating systems. 

The concern is this attack was only round one, and it may have been a test to see how successful it would be before the hackers launch round two.

Members of the Cyber Defense Team said they are expecting round two to pop up any day. 

When you see a message telling you to update your computer, your first thought may be to click "postpone," but Scott Ross, a student in John A Logan's Cyber Security Department, said that's a bad idea because those updates protect your files from hackers. 

"Essentially, you start it up, you tell it who you want to attack and off it goes," Ross said. "Literally anyone could do this."

Ross made a presentation on this specific type of malware days before it took over hundreds of thousands of computers around the world, holding files for ransom unless the hackers were paid hundreds of dollars. 

Instructor Mark Rogers said the scary thing about this virus is it can easily infect your computer, even if you don't click on the virus yourself. 

"What could be really bad is, you go to McDonald's, and you jump on their free WiFi," Rogers said. "If someone else on that McDonald's WiFi is infected, your computer would be infected."

Instructor Kylee Williams said she fears this is just phase one of the attack and that it is up to us to stop our computers from being infected by making sure we have those updates installed. 

"Sometimes, its just like the test goes out, and then the bigger one and then the bigger one, and you just keep growing," Williams said. 

Ross, Williams and Rogers said businesses are at greater risk of getting this virus because more people are connected to one network.

Their advice to business owners: inform all of your employees not to click any attachment in an email unless they're expecting it and always update computers when you're asked to, or it won't be long before you fall victim to a virus like this. 

"It was really only a matter of time before something like this happened," Ross said. 

The team warned that this ransom ware doesn't only affect computers, but if you have a Windows operating system on your phone or tablet, those could be infected, too.    

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