It’s been a dicey time for cybersecurity. Zomato got hacked and Wannacry/Wannacrypt is rampaging across half the globe.
Wannacry is a worm developed by the NSA, that affects only Windows systems (and, supposedly, makes people wanna cry). This malware encrypts your files and demands payment to restore access.
How do you know if you have it? Well, you’ll see this hilariously polite installation-wizard looking window.
The first timer on the left counts down the seconds till the asking price of $300 doubles and the other tells you how much time you have to make the payment before you lose all your data.
To put this in perspective $300 is currently Rs. 19,215.
It spreads through LAN networks or through email attachments. So, for one thing, don’t click on any suspicious links that you don’t recognise.
The Extent of the Damage So Far
150 countries have been affected by the virus.
Britain’s National Health Service has had to turn away patients because their systems were affected.
People from around the world have collectively shelled out more than $50,000 (Rs. 32,44,000) to recover their data.
Russia seems to have borne the brunt of the attack.
India is the third-worst affected country with more than 40,000 affected systems. And even though India has been adopting tech at a reasonable rate, we are far from computer literate. This is, in part, what led to Wannacry’s success.
Here’s what we can learn from the whole chaotic fiasco.
1. We Need to Change How We Think about Technology
Wannacry uses a Windows security loophole called EternalBlue.
Microsoft had released a security update in March, which, when used, would fix this security flaw, making it impossible for Wannacry to make you cry.
Stop putting off your system updates.
Also, if you have a pirated, older version of Windows, you’ve probably already kissed your data goodbye. Protip: pirated software will not receive crucial updates.
2. Staying Up-To-Date Needs to Be Taken Seriously
The UK healthcare system was so badly affected because the publicly funded NHS couldn’t afford to upgrade their systems to recent versions of Windows (which would have been safe from the worm).
3. Cut the Bullshit
Tech companies need to be less arcane about their updates. When a Windows user gets a pop-up telling them they need to update, they’ll more often than not shake their heads and carry on with their work.
But if they were told that an update was fixing a security flaw which could be used to disrupt their lives, they would be more likely to sit up and take note. And this is something that tech companies like Microsoft need to be thinking about.
A large portion of the systems affected might not have been if users were told what the security patch was actually doing for them.
4. We Need to Be Less Gullible
We need to use our critical thinking abilities more liberally in our lives.
If you come across a suspicious link or a shady-looking email attachment, don’t open it. This mindset will almost definitely save you a lot of tech-related heartache at some point.
Please, India, we really need to educate and protect ourselves.