Stay safe from WCrypt and Cryptolocker Virus

6 minute read

What is WCrypt (also known as WannaCrypt)?
Some people call this a cyber attack and others mention cyber security, but here we will simplify this. It is a small application that causes harm to your computer files. It comes in the categories, virus and malware.

This is affecting computer systems around the world (with Russia showing the most affected computers). Frankfurt airport running Windows 7 is also affected see twitter post.

A few years ago there was a threat to our computer systems called Cryptolocker. You may ask why is this relevant?

Just like Cryptlocker, WCrypt causes harm to your files and encrypts the files so you cannot have access to them. Slowly this will run throughout the computers files and you may not know how much damage is caused until you try and access certain files you may need.

In addition to causing harm, if you want access to those files, you are asked to pay a ransom (which may cost you money and you still could be left with the damage). This is also known as ransomware.

image of laptop with a virus

How do we keep safe?
The best advice we have is:
-Have backups of your files in a second location aware from the computer)
-Keep your computer up to date with and running Windows 8 or Windows 10.
-Make sure you have an antivirus and it is up to date.
-If you believe your computer/servers are affected, seek IT help to investigate this sooner rather than later.
-Finally, do not plug in any USB sticks or USB drives if your computer is affected.

Microsoft released a patch 2 months ago to fix a problem. WCrypt is taking advantage of systems not updated as documented by BBC. Full information is available from Microsoft TechNet. Please see detailed notes about Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010.

Why is the NHS in the UK affected?
The true answer is they will know this and so will Teresa May (the Prime Minister of the UK). Some argue that the NHS are running out dated systems like Windows XP. There are applications that have not been updated for years and no alternative to quickly change over due to the size of the organisation. As such moving (or migrating in IT terms) requires a lot of planning, time and is a big project. There is lots of our data to move.

Is Windows XP supported by Microsoft?
For you and me, NO. Support had ended in April 2014 (mentioned here by Microsoft). However for the NHS and other UK Government departments support was extended to April 2015. After this date all Government IT systems running Windows XP had no further support and were vulnerable unless the systems were upgraded to a newer operating system (or OS).

Microsoft have announced that they will update older systems Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 with a patch to protect them against this. This helps you in the interim, but going forward IT systems should be upgraded and you should have an IT support agreement in place.

How does WCrypt get on your computer?
As with any virus it happens because of a human act of behaviour. For example opening a file from an email where you don't know the person. It may be from a website where you download a file from a link.

How is it spread?
In a business office set up, when one computer gets the virus, then it will do to places you can access on the shared systems. From another computer, they access a dangerous (malicious) file they a second computer is affected and this keeps spreading this way. If you then email a damaged file to an external person, they may be affected.

For personal computers, ensure USB sticks from others are scanned for viruses before you access the files.

How long could you stop working?
The time not working can add up when there is an outage to any business. Here is a simple calculator to help you determine the cost to your business.

If you are still confused or would like is to look at your computer security then call the team on 01489 290 001.

This post was brought to you by Baldeep on 13 May 2017.

Small businesses are often left behind by IT companies as the aim is to work with the larger businesses. Baldeep started the company knowing that IT doesn't have to be your frustration. Provide great solutions at small business budgets is helping companies in Hampshire to focus on their goals without the burden of IT overheads or downtime.

Baldeep continued developing his skillset and has multiple accreditations to his name including his degree, Microsoft Certifications, ITIL and VMware Data Center Virtualization Certification. He is always learning to move IT forward for your business.

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