Time for a reality check: computers equal freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom to learn. The world desires and wishes to keep these same principles and philosophies intact for all generations, for all countries, and for all societies.
You see, computers give us unlimited, intimate access to information. And don’t forget, it’s the information age, an age that is driven by the possibilities of fame, possibilities of financial wealth and gain, and promises of endless facts and figures beyond human comprehension.
The Internet has become a world all in itself over the years, and someone (or some group) is trying to stop us from connecting to our pleasure-seeking, self-centered ways.
With more than 150 countries (and counting) being hit with the same type of malware in the same 12-hour time period, you start to realize that our world is more connected, more instantaneous, more intimate, and more on-demand than you would like to admit.
But first, how does the bug work? According to theGuardian.com, “ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user’s data, then demands payment in exchange for unlocking the data.” This malware attacks in one of three ways: from a bad hyperlink (or clickable link), from a bad email link, or from a phony advertisement. It only takes a matter of minutes for it to convert all your documents and pictures into unusable rubbish. This bug (officially named WannaCry) exploits a vulnerability in Windows, flashes a message on the screen to pay the ransom, and makes your computer virtually a dead-weight machine. The bug’s intent is to put billions and billions of people into panic mode, making them cave in to paying the $300 ransom being asked. It’s all a gimmick to scam you and destroy what seems precious and valuable to you: data. Data will always be a sacred part of an average person’s digital life until the end of time.
Microsoft claims it released an update for this vulnerability back in March, but most users wouldn’t know about this update; that’s because most users don’t spend quality time and effort to perform Windows updates on a regular basis. The other problem is that most users would lack the skill and know-how on how to perform the update themselves. It’s not in their routines to make a checklist and follow it with such accuracy. Hackers have always known of this weakness. Expect more attacks in the future on this kind of level, one that achieves national attention, reveals more weaknesses in software programs, and weakens the “trust-factor” built between mankind and computer.
How to Protect Yourself, Your Computer, and Your Peace of Mind
1. Perform all Windows updates as soon as possible.
2. Be suspicious from this point on about strange emails with strange requests. Any request is a fraud and a fake, unless previously known.
3. Keep up-to-date on computer-related news events and public announcements.
4. Keep your antivirus current and updated.
5. Back up your data more often. Back-ups offer peace of mind to on-going malware threats.
6. Most of all, be on the lookout for anything suspicious on social media websites. Communicate these suspicions to others.
The possibility for cyber-attacks are real, and they do exist. Pure and simple. This isn’t a Hollywood movie script. This is life, a life driven by computers and technology. Cyber-attacks have always been there—much more today than ever before because of faster speeds, better connections, and trustworthy users like yourself. Because of these facts, someone out there, who is rather smart in programming and can figure out logical gaps and loops in coding language, is taking pieces of technology that work in the modern age and putting them into a negative light, a light that spells the end of technology’s control over users.
You may not be feeling the pain of this yet. But give it time. Evil deeds can morph and expand into unforeseen heartaches. This is one of them.
Author's Note: Microsoft's trying their hardest to cure a world-wide problem, the largest and biggest malware outbreak in history. Believe me, this is not a surprise. In fact, it's a given when you connect people with other people; it's a given when you connect different cultures and backgrounds together. Other forces would rather us not have computers or the Internet at all. The only hope we have in this world is to arm ourselves with the best protection known to mankind: thinking. If we think more, we can protect more. If we think more like hackers, we can protect more of our precious digital data. Therefore, thinking is our best tool. No one can alter that. Not even the best technology on Earth.
Tired of ransomware? Read this: Ordinary Reflections.