What can businesses and individuals do to protect themselves from ransomware? Here are some tips from security experts.
Update your software
Security experts believe the malware that spurred this global attack, called WannaCry, may have initially infected machines by getting people to download it through email. After that, the malicious code was able to easily travel to a broader network of computers that were linked together through the Windows file-sharing system. (Users of Macs or other non-Windows computers were not affected.)
The most disheartening revelation from the cyberattack was that there was a fix available for the ransomware before the attack. Microsoft, which makes Windows, released a patch for the WannaCry vulnerability eight weeks ago, said Chris Wysopal, the chief technology officer of Veracode, an application security company.
In other words, if people had simply stayed on top of security updates, their machines would not have been infected. “People kind of got complacent and not vigilant about updating their machines,” Mr. Wysopal said.
Consumers can remedy this by configuring their Windows machines to automatically install the latest software updates.
Even though WannaCry specifically targeted Windows machines, that does not mean Mac or Linux users are off the hook in the future. Other breeds of malware may infect various operating systems, so no matter which device you are using, you should regularly update your software to install the latest security enhancements.