Managing your computer security

Cyber securityHere at Kapiti SeniorNet we spend quite a bit of time exhorting our members to be computer security minded for the very good reasons that failing to do that can be an expensive lesson. We even run a workshop on dealing with spam  showing you what can happen and how easy it is to be hoodwinked.

Computer security is a bit of a misnomer because computers can never be 100% secure. In 2016 alone cyber thieves stole US$81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh, and data breaches were still rife even after several of the high profile cases such as SONY and Yahoo. In the latter case Yahoo was in the middle of being taken over by the telecoms company Verizon in a US$4.8 billion deal that was nearly derailed as a result.

Then there was the Russian hackers interference with the US elections, and closer to us the black market in computerized extortions.

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A last note on the Cyber-attack debacle

Map RansomwareYou are most likely sick and tired of hearing about the attack of  Ransomware and similar worms, however, it is a fact that most Windows PCs were vulnerable to remote attack due to dud Windows Defender, the protection installed by default on all consumer oriented Windows PCs.

Without going in to all the technical details suffice it to say that Microsoft has now – and it must be said with impressive speed – issued an automatic patch to guard against the remote code execution.

The interesting thing about this whole story is

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You Don’t WannaCry… Do You?

You’d have to be living in a cocoon to have missed the reports in the mainstream media this week about the WannaCry Worm which has infected vulnerable computers around the world. WannaCry is transmitted when people open infected email attachments and can spread itself quickly within organisations over their internal computer networks. Home PCs and laptops are just as vulnerable!

What is WannaCry?

It’s a computer worm categorised as ransomware! When a PC (or laptop) is infected by WannaCry or any of its variants, important files are encrypted (scrambled) and can no longer be read or used. The primary target is your documents and pictures.

Once infected, you have to pay a ransom to gain access to your documents and pictures.

How do I recover from a WannaCry Infection?

If you want to recover (decrypt) your documents and pictures, you have to pay $US300 in Bitcoins to some ratbag. If you take more than 3 days, they double the charge to $US600 and after 6 days, they simply walk away leaving your PC information completely inaccessible.

If you don’t want to pay the money, you better have a (recent) backup of your documents, pictures, music and videos. You’ll likely need to reset your PC (reinstall Windows!) to remove the infection and then restore your documents, pictures, music and videos from the backup.

If you want to avoid having to choose a recovery method then read on… Continue reading