It never ends. Gluten free, minimum wage, climate change, voter fraud, the Russians, saving the whales, vaccinations, healthcare, the FBI, and now I have to deal with cyberattacks too?

Over the weekend nearly 150 countries and over 300,000 computers were hit with various kinds of cyberattacks on computer systems large and small.

Ransomware

The most common and lethal attack on today’s computers is an attack called Ransomware. This particular weekend attack is a program called “WannaCry.”

The WannaCry ransomware program takes advantage of flaws in unpatched copies of some versions of Windows, especially Windows XP.

Users still running that operating system were vulnerable to an attack. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP three years ago,

Microsoft did issue a patch to fix the vulnerability on March 14, but Microsoft has so many upgrades most people just didn’t install it.

In most cases you get Ransomware by opening an email attachment and bad people suddenly have complete control of your computer.

Emails, bank account info, credit cards, passwords, are all in the hands of crooks and you have to pay a ransom before they will unlock your computer so you can get your files back.

Usually the payment is made in the form of Bitcoins. An untraceable currency not used by the world banking system.

You convert your dollars to bitcoins, — the crooks are happy to explain how to do that and how to pay them, — and then maybe, if there is really honor among thieves, you might just get your files back.

However, if you have some really bad stuff on your computer then in addition to paying a ransom you might also have a blackmail experience.

Backup, Backup, Backup

With our busy lives it’s hard to find the time to make sure that your computer is backed up somewhere offsite of your actual computer.

There are many online companies that do these backups automatically or you can buy external hard drives that can hold massive amounts of information for around $100 or less.

Some Final Thoughts

The US was not as badly hit as some areas. The Russians and Asia took the biggest hits to their systems. Reports claim the number of incidents lessened on Monday.

It’s hard to comprehend our lives without computers. Even if you don’t use one in your personal life, loss of computing would affect your life in a major way.

Is this the first shoe to drop? Was this just a test run? Will there be more attacks in the coming weeks or months?

Are you ready?

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