On Friday 12th May computers around the world were attacked by the WannaCry ransomware.
In the UK, this attack most prominently affected computers in the NHS. Many of the systems in use by the NHS are running on Windows XP, which was a particularly vulnerable operating system as prior to 13th May no security updates had been released for it since April 2014.
Microsoft released a patch for Windows XP on 13th May. Other versions of Windows such as Vista and Windows 8.1 also contained the vulnerability that WannaCry exploited, and Microsoft had released a patch to fix this issue on 14th March.
Did the attack affect Unlimited Web Hosting?
As all of our servers run on Linux operating systems, and the WannaCry ransomware only targeted Windows systems, the attack did not affect our hosting services. In addition, all of our Windows machines in our offices are updated regularly, so we were already patched against this vulnerability.
How do I protect myself from Ransomware?
In this case, the systems that were compromised had out of date or unpatched operating systems.
To prevent attacks from ransomware, and other types of malware, you should keep your computer and all of your programs updated. You can set Windows and other programs to automatically check for updates, which helps keep you one step ahead of the hackers.
You should also keep a regular backup of all of your data, on a separate device or using cloud storage. In the event of an infection, you will then be able to wipe your machine, giving you at most a couple of hours downtime and saving you paying $300 to unlock your hard drive.
Unfortunately, these types of attacks are not going to go away, and hackers will continue to find and exploit vulnerabilities.
However, the computer industry is quick to respond to these vulnerabilities as they become known, and you can greatly reduce the chance of infection by keeping your systems fully updated.
Finally, have a Disaster Recovery plan. Most businesses go out of business within a year of a catastrophic data loss, so maintain a regular backup and be able to wipe your machines should the worst happen.