Q What does the WannaCry virus do?
A It locks computers so that users cannot access their files or programs. Hackers ask for payment to safely release the computer. This type of virus is also known as ransomware. WannaCry and its variants like Wana- Crypt and Wanna Decryptor target computers that use Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
Q How does it infect computers?
A By e-mail. Users receive a file, usually in a .zip format. When the user clicks on the file or opens it, the virus will automatically spread and lock up files and programs. Once the computer is fully infected, the user can access only two files – instructions on what to do next and the virus program itself.
Other forms of ransom- ware lure users into clicking on a fake link in an e-mail or on a bogus website. It will then release a virus that corrupts the computer.
Q Ransomware is not new. Why the panic?
A The speed and scale of WannaCry’s spread has alarmed security experts.
Within hours of it being discovered on Friday, over 57,000 attacks were reported across 99 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan reportedly the top targets.
Operations in large organisations like Britain’s National Health Service, global shipper FedEx in the United States and the Russian Interior Ministry have been affected.
Experts say the malicious software is spreading at a rate of five million e-mails per hour.
This virus has been designed as a “worm”, which means it can automatically spread to other computers in the same network.
Q How can one protect one’s computer?