WannaCry ransomware – the importance of data security

17 May 2017 Becca Cawthorne

Andrew Williams, Online Safety Consultant and resident data protection expert offers a guide on ransomware and how SWGfL’s 360 Data can help protect your organisation against malicious attacks.

The recent cyber-attack (known as WannaCry) that hit UK NHS trusts recently highlighted the importance of ensuring your organisation has robust data security systems in place.

Reports indicate that this was a global attack that has affected around 75,000 across 99 countries. In the UK this lead to hundreds of cancelled NHS procedures with many lives affected as staff were unable to access key data, while a number of schools and other organisations have also been affected.

What is Ransomware?

A ransomware attack takes control of a device and encrypts (or locks) the data upon it. This can only be unlocked if you know the password. At this point, the virus will then display a message demanding payment in exchange for the decryption (unlocking) of your data.

In today’s inter-connected world, ransomware attacks have become a regular occurrence, with 40% of business reporting attacks in 2016.

The WannaCry attack was so successful because it was able to exploit a weakness in some older Windows operating systems, notably Windows XP.

What can I do?

If you’re not already a user of 360data, now may be a good time to sign up and access good-quality advice and guidance from SWGfL, the team behind 360 degree safe.

Other steps include:

  • Ensure you have an up-to-date backup available (and have tested it)
  • Update your Windows installation
  • Keep your anti-virus up-to-date
  • Be cautious, don’t click on links in emails – do you know the sender?

For more information on how to protect your organisation, please visit 360data.org.uk and sign-up or take our FREE 30-second quiz.

SWGfL is a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre.