Just last month, the “WannaCry” Ransomware attack spread across 150 countries and infected over 250,000 computers – largely outdated government and institutional machines with older operating systems. The attack started in Europe, but fears remain that it will spread to the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft and cyber security firms raced to provide security patches and updates to users.
In the wake of this attack, scammers are exploiting consumer fears through fake pop-ups and apps claiming to protect computers from this malware. In the first case, while surfing the internet a pop-up will appear on the screen claiming that the computer has been infected by the “WannaCry” malware. The user is then instructed to call the number on the screen for immediate assistance. Of course, “assistance” means that the user must provide the scammer with remote access to their computer. Once remote access is given, your computer is truly compromised. In the second case, scammers have flooded app sites like Google Play with fake apps claiming to scan or protect computers and smartphones, even though the “WannCry” malware has not currently targeted smartphones.
To help protect your computer from malicious pop-ups or fraudulent apps, consider the following:
- Practice safe searching. Don’t click on any links or call numbers listed in pop-ups, no matter how dire the message.
- Stick with legitimate, mainstream app vendors. Do not download any apps without first researching their source, even in trusted sites. They may contain viruses, malware or spyware that can compromise your personal data.
- Update your operating system. Those alerts on your computer or smart phone that tell you to update your apps and operating system are more than just an annoyance. These updates close security loopholes and other back doors hackers can use to access your phone without your knowledge.
- Be wary of public Wi-Fi. If you choose to connect to an unsecured or public Wi-Fi network, do not enter any passwords or access any personal data. Bad guys can use such networks as an easy means to hack your device.
- Use Bluetooth sparingly. Bluetooth creates a wireless connection between your phone, computer and other devices. With Bluetooth enabled, if one device is compromised all other connected devices are at risk as well. If you are not actively using an enabled device, such as a headset, make sure your Bluetooth is turned off.
- Check your permissions. Check all of your apps to see what data they are accessing and revoke permissions for information those apps don’t need to properly operate. Check your computer or phone’s owner’s manual or contact your wireless provider for directions on how to do so.
- Back up your data. Make sure you have a backup of all the apps and information — especially important photos or other irreplaceable items — stored on your device in case it’s lost, stolen, hacked or damaged.
- Keep anti-virus and anti-malware enabled and up to date. There are many resources for antivirus or other security apps for your devices. Research them thoroughly before choosing which is right for you.
Source: BBB North Alabama, McAfee.com, and Fortune.com
For more details, check out Fake WannaCry Protection Apps Hit the Google Play Store, Cybersecurity Experts Fear Continued Spread of ‘Unprecedented’ Ransomware Attack, and “WannaCry” Ransomware Spreads like Wildfire, Attacks over 150 Countries.
BBB News Release: Two New Scams Spin-Off “WannaCry” Ransomware Attacks