You may have heard about the cyberattack that has been travelling across the globe over the weekend, affecting over 200,000 machines so far. Computers all over the world have been hit by ransomware, from Japan’s Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center to the Saskatchewan government.

What is ransomware, and how does it spread?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts files, making it impossible to access them. In exchange for regaining access to your files, a ransom is demanded, typically in Bitcoin, an online currency that is almost untraceable. It can be spread either by email attachments, or from PC to PC. Find out more about this attack and how ransomware spreads here.

How can you protect yourself?

Backup, backup, backup! Having a second copy of all of your files is the best way to protect yourself. The copy can be saved to an external hard drive or cloud-based, but it will be a lifesaver if your computer does get hit.

Use caution when opening email attachments. While some attachments are obviously suspicious, ransomware can be hidden in Word documents or PDFs, which are often seen as secure.

Make sure your antivirus software is up to date. Updating your operating system is a key step you can take to protect yourself. Find out more about how to defend yourself against ransomware here.

This cyber attack has affected hundreds of thousands, and is not to be taken lightly! However, if you take the time to backup your files and make sure your antivirus software is up to date, there’s no need to worry.