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It was May 12th,2017. The ransomware known as WannaCry reached its peak and affected up to 200.000 computers across 150 countries. Imagine how many more people could have been affected by WannaCry, if it wasn't for Marcus Hutchins, who discovered the kill switch for WannaCry a few days after its discovery, putting a stop on this ransomware epidemic.
Ransomware infects hundreds of thousands of people each year with WannaCry keeping its top position within the most widespread ransomware. This is why today, May 12th, 2020 – on the first Anti-Ransomware Day in history – it is important to understand how ransomware works to keep our data safe and not fall for malicious cybercriminals.
What is ransomware?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3MDIwOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTYxMjg3NX0._RvBNwkT7pcRD4GOIAOJ2k1tN3QIIY6kcSo-sVhTKwo/img.jpg?width=980" id="04238" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c8141ab4917bec07f876189e9a5ed64f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p> Remember when you were little and your brother took your favorite toy hostage and threatened to destroy it if you didn't hand over the remote to him. <a href="https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/15591/392702" target="_blank">Ransomware</a> works similarly, but instead of taking your favorite toy away, it encrypts your data, so you cannot access it anymore, and the malicious person behind it threatens to destroy or publish it if you do not pay a ransom – hence the name ransomware. It can also extract data saved on your devices, like credit card numbers or login data, which could lead to criminals cleaning out your bank accounts.</p>
How does ransomware work?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI3MDIxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTU5MjI4N30.iiF6hun4pRu30X_VnSHS7NOXT4nyluGmspydDUxggq8/img.jpg?width=980" id="22caf" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cac27028233da22963271f88904651cf" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p> Ransomware exploits vulnerabilities in software or <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive-by_download" target="_blank">drive-by-downloads</a>. Drive-by-downloads are very tricky, as you don't always recognize they are being downloaded on your device. Let's say you are downloading a free time management tool on your computer. Ransomware could be attached to it and be transferred onto your device, without you recognizing. Another possible way is a crooked link which you visit accidentally because you might have clicked on an ad or spelled the URL incorrectly, so when the website is loading you don't realize that there is ransomware downloading in the background. It also spreads via so-called <a href="https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/social-engineering" target="_blank">social engineering</a>: Cybercriminals send malicious links or documents via emails or chat messages and try to attract users to open it. Once opened, the malicious software gets downloaded and starts taking hold of your data.</p>
How to keep safe?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg5NjE4OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMDk5Mjc1NX0.Ac3Ka_iOyfex0Q3Cpkb3PkpfJp9UAdf4qqKjU8LAjyU/img.jpg?width=980" id="6976b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e22c1a7e271076f0e2081deff681c883" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p> To keep your data safe, you mainly need to stay alert: do not click on suspicious links, always check the URL before login into your profiles, and always make sure to not download any attachments from senders you do not know. Also, do not forget to back up your data. You may think your data is not as important, but just consider the emotional value of all your family pictures and videos or that report you need to hand in by the end of the week. And most importantly, please always keep your software up to date to ensure vulnerabilities are not a gateway to your data.</p>
What if it is already too late?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDQyMTkxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDMyMTcwMn0.QmP3KgmZQIodUQ91Uuu3k-V7AXV28VermzW0jWEtrsw/img.jpg?width=980" id="7b531" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="426a6ce3948925b8fdfbd754c2542ec8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p> Ransomware attacks somebody every 14 seconds. If one of your devices gets infected, you have to immediately cut its internet connection, and however important the data is, do not pay the ransom. Instead, file a report with the police. Organizations like <a href="https://www.nomoreransom.org/" target="_blank">nomoreransom.org</a> can help you restore your encrypted data. Try to find a <a target="_blank">decryptor</a> online, some of them are even free – just make sure it's a trustworthy provider.</p><p> No matter how bad circumstances may be and how great of damage your data loss is, remember that there are always <a href="https://www.tomorrowunlocked.com/the_guardians" target="_self">guardians</a> out there, like Marcus Hutchins, <a href="https://youtu.be/_xqEldPA_xA" target="_blank">Eva Galperin</a>, <a href="https://youtu.be/PQsBiXnuiho" target="_blank">Einar Otto Stangvik</a>, or <a href="https://youtu.be/sxJ8S4fOpBU" target="_blank">Kira Rakova</a>, making sure we are safe in the digital world. And today, we would like to say: Thank you!</p>
- Tomorrow Unlocked > hacker : HUNTER ›
- Tomorrow Unlocked > Wannacry ›
- Tomorrow Unlocked > From hero to zero to a free man ›
Marcus Hutchins, cybersecurity hero turned cybercrime defendant, starts telling his story
"I was shaking, I think I sweat through my t-shirt and through my blazer. I did not know how to feel - it just felt like everything was coming to an end but not in a good way..."
For Marcus Hutchins, a dream that had turned into a nightmare ended in July with a compassionate sentence by a judge in Milwaukee. "I just got out of my court hearing for the sentencing, of course. I wasn't really sure how it was going to go down, I was very, very nervous", he told us right after leaving the courtroom. "But the judge took a very broad view of the entire circumstances rather than just the case at hand - he weighed up my past work helping security. He also went into the unique circumstances of me being stuck in a foreign country instead of at home. And he ended up ruling 'time served', which was actually a big surprise to me. But looking back it does make sense when you weigh in the fact that I've not been at home, I've been forced to stay in a foreign country for two years."
Coming in October: WannaCry - The Marcus Hutchins Story<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3c6f3c86b4dc53bdfb1b5c63f2425c89"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ybRROaZRiRg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>Marcus Hutchins, the cybersecurity hero who stopped WannaCry turned cybercrime defendant, tells his story in this exclusive documentary. Coming to YouTube en...
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