We know it seems like computer virus threats are so ’90s and early 2000s, but every now and then comes a worm on the internet that sounds just as bad as the I Love You virus. As though we don’t already have enough problems and looming specters to deal with in 2017, we get a new reason to watch what we click on. (But you should be smart enough to not download anything fishy to begin with.)
If you’ve missed the news, we’re talking about WCry (or WanaCry), of a new breed of computer virus known as ransomware. When your Windows computer gets infected with it, the virus makes all of your files inaccessible—pretty much bricking your PC—until you send a payment of $300 in bitcoin to who we assume are the creators of the virus. Hence, ransomware.
What’s scary about WCry is that it’s apparently so easy to get infected; it’s possible for you can go visit a website you usually check out and get it just by making it. The virus’s data lockout give it some scary real-world implications, like when hospitals in the UK had to deny service just because they couldn’t access their patient records. While WCry doesn’t seem to have hit any user here, the global nature of the internet makes it ridiculously easy for someone around here to get infected and spread the virus quickly.
So how do you protect yourself from WCry? Right now, the solution seems really simple: just update your Windows. There’s enough time for Microsoft to update its operating system’s security. Meanwhile, don’t open anything from any e-mails you’re not expecting, and again, definitely don’t download any suspicious programs or updates. (And tell your parents or less-savvy friends and family to do the same.)
If you do get hit, though, your best bet is to pray Safe Mode virus removal works, or to find a way to do a System Restore on your PC. In the meantime, stay safe out there, and don’t click on any sketchy porn ads.
Photo by Myles Longfield