It looks like most Australians aren’t among the 200,000 victims of the WannaCry ransomware attack, but the Australian Government is warning that this “is not game over” in the battle with hackers.
Associate Professor Mark Gregory from RMIT University agrees, and says it’s impossible to be completely protected from the next attack.
“You can take all the precautions in the world, but you still might get hit by one of these attacks,” he said.
Now you’re sufficiently terrified, here’s what Professor Gregory said you should do if you’ve been attacked, and how you can avoid being caught next time.
What should I do?
Disconnect your PC from any networks it’s connected to.
Then power it off.
Professor Gregory said what happens next depends if you’re on a home PC or at work.
If you’re at home, get in touch with a local IT support company who’ll be able to get your computer back into working order.
If you’re at work, get in touch with your internal IT department, then make sure a notification is sent out telling everyone about the attack.
Should I pay the ransom?
“I don’t believe that people should be paying criminals,” Professor Gregory said.
Director of the Centre for Cyber Security Research at Deakin University, Professor Yang Xiang, told the ABC it’s not ethical to pay the ransom.
“If you keep paying ransom it’s actually helping attackers to grow the industry,” he said. Also, it is good to note that NO one who paid the ransom for WannaCry got their files back, and it is in no way a guarantee.
But let’s say you do pay up.
It’s a total roll of the dice if you’ll get your data back, according to Professor Gregory.
He said while it’s in the interests of the criminals to release your data, he’s seen “every variety” of outcome once people have paid the ransom.
Is there any chance I’ll see my data again?
Here’s Professor Gregory:
“Generally if you’ve been hit by ransomware the only approach you can take now is to reinstall [everything on] the computer,” he said.
In short, prevention is better than the cure.
OK. So how do I protect myself for next time?
Here’s what you should do, according to Professor Gregory:
- Update your operating system regularly
- Make sure you keep a regular backup of your important files
- Install anti-virus and anti-malware software (and keep it updated)
“It’s vital that everyone takes the opportunity to utilise the backup tools that most operating systems have built in now. People need to learn how to use those. They’ve become a part of everyday life,” Professor Gregory said.
“Backups and the constant updating of our computers means that we’ve got the best opportunity to recover.”
Microsoft has put together a special page to help you if you think your PC could be at risk and you can find links to download the latest patches at the bottom of the page.
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