It's called WannaCry, and 200,000 companies from 150 different countries around the world have already been affected by this virus.
Do you want to know what you can do to prevent your computer from being attacked, protecting all the information it contains?
It may seem like a difficult task, but you will find that it is perfectly within your reach, and it will - at least - save you a big hassle.
The online newspaper Observador did a roundup of the best advice you should follow to fight this virus, which encrypts computer files so that hackers can then ask for a ransom in bitcoins (virtual currency). Here are some of them:
Keep your operating system updated: the people who were most affected by WannaCry were those who didn't have the latest version of Microsoft's operating system. It's important not to ignore the updates requested by your computer, and you should confirm if you have any pending updates on Windows Update.
Have a backup: have all the important data stored in another location so that you can retrieve it whenever you need it. An external hard drive or the cloud are the most common storage solutions. But try to do it on a regular basis, at least once a week, because you never know when this kind of attack will happen.
Have a good antivirus: Rodrigo Adão Fonseca, head of the security company Vision Ware, considers this one of the most basic rules. Oh, and make sure you have the latest version on your computer!
Be careful what you click on: beware! Don't open suspicious files or links, especially if they come from unknown individuals. Even if it's from someone you know, but you find the language unfamiliar, get in touch with this person and confirm that the information was sent by them. If it was not, delete it. Without opening it, of course!
Do you own a company?
Be careful: the situation is a bit more tricky when we're dealing with companies instead of personal computers, and Rodrigo Adão da Fonseca told Observador that "there's also a great lack of concern regarding information security." But the best way for an entire company to be protected is "prevention": Having an "organized infrastructure" instead of the "obsolete production systems" many companies still have.
Contingency and crisis management plans: Companies must also have backups of their data and files. Moreover, they must also know what to do and how to react to a given threat, because they are never the same.
What to do if you are under attack?
Were you attacked by a virus like WannaCry, despite all your precautions? It is not at all impossible, since there are no 100% safe systems nowadays. VisionWare tells you what you should do:
Disconnect the computer from the network: if you're under attack, you'll probably see a message on the screen demanding a ransom. If this happens, immediately disconnect the device from the network to prevent other computers from being infected. Even if you don't see that message but you detect something suspicious, disconnect the device from the network.
Notify the authorities: the next step is to contact the authorities and explain what happened. Whether it's a serious case like WannaCry or something smaller, the authorities will know how to prevent the virus from spreading.
Ask for expert help: refer to technical experts to analyze what happened to your computer and your network. Don't try to solve the problem by yourself; you won't know what to do.