Look back at the ransomware virus that shook the world only seven years ago, and the lessons we can learn to boost our cybersecurity.

In May 2017 a dangerous ransomware took the world by storm. Its name was “WannaCry”. This malicious software infected hundreds of thousands of computers across more than 150 countries, causing widespread disruption and financial losses. 

The WannaCry attack served as a wake-up call, highlighting the importance of basic cybersecurity knowledge as it encrypted millions of data, and demanded payment in bitcoin. Seven years later, what can we learn from this attack?

What is the WannaCry Virus?

WannaCry is a ransomware virus, or a virus that demands money in exchange for stolen files to be returned, that attacked computers running Microsoft Windows worldwide on May 12, 2017. It exploited a vulnerability called EternalBlue, originally created by the National Security Agency, and spread through different servers using phishing tactics or an infected website. Once inside the victim’s system, it encrypted all files and demanded payment in Bitcoin in exchange for decryption that was not even guaranteed. It affected large companies in different industries around the globe; a few notable victims were Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica, Deutsche Bahn, Renault, and even the British National Health Service or NHS. On the same day of the attack, a kill switch was discovered inside the virus, gradually lessening attacks—however, much was still lost in bitcoin to the virus’ creators, a hacker group called Shadow Brokers.

What Happened After WannaCry?

The WannaCry virus did not just infect multiple organizations across 150 countries, it also caused both large financial losses and the important data of thousands of clients. The virus was also many people’s introduction to a ransomware virus, leading everyone involved to realize how simple anti-phishing education and stronger cybersecurity infrastructures could have stopped the attack completely.

What Lessons Can We Learn?

Though seven years has passed since the WannaCry attack, it doesn’t mean that a similar and possibly stronger ransomware could infect thousands of devices again at any time. 

Here are 4 simple yet effective things you can do to make sure you don’t become a victim of any type of malware

1. Never Click on Suspicious Links:

     WannaCry widely spread through phishing links—malicious links that install viruses once clicked—during a time when phishing was not yet seen as a large threat. Make sure to not click on any link that you may receive through a random text or email to avoid accidentally downloading malware.

2. Regularly Update Your System:                           

      WannaCry affected devices running old, outdated Windows operating systems which made it easier for the malware to spread quickly. To fight back against a repeat attack, always update your system to make sure it has the latest security measures and
ward off malware.

3. Limit Network Access to Authorized Individuals:

      Leaving your network unguarded by setting it as a public Wi-Fi makes you vulnerable to hackers anywhere. Check your network settings to make sure it is secured and can only be accessed by those you trust.

4. Stay Up to Date with the Latest Cybersecurity News:

      When WannaCry caused organizations around the world to come to a complete stop, most people have never even heard of ransomware or basic cybersecurity training. Research on the latest in cybersecurity to know which threats could attack your device and how to fight back.

Fight against any future malware attack by knowing how malware works and the ways you can stop it from entering your device. Microgenesis is your go-to source for cybersecurity news, tips, and guides to safeguard your online presence today.