Tom wants to set up a virtual private network at home. How can he do that? He's worried about getting bit by ransomware. Will a VPN prevent that? Leo says that no. If you click on something, a VPN can't help you. But a VPN will keep your traffic private, so no one can see where you're going. But even then, it has its limitations. While it burrows an encrypted tunnel to where you're going, once you get there, it's no longer encrypted. So you have to trust that where you're going will keep your privacy. And your provider still sees your traffic.
The Weather Channel went down this week for about 90 minutes due to a phishing attack and ransomware. Leo says that it's impressive that the Weather Channel came back up so quickly, but this is going to keep happening as long as people click on attachments.
Leo says that while 2018 was the year Ransomware, 2019 is even worse. Arizona Beverages got hit by ransomware last week. The attack shut down sales operations for days, scuttled their networks, and servers. The network was hacked and encrypted, targeted by hackers with a ransom note posted to their website. Leo says that Arizona struggled with trying to rebuild their operations for five days. Most of their servers hadn't been given security patches in years and their backups didn't work.
Jay gets an email of a scam that says it has his login information and knows where he's been online. It even tells him his password. And unless he gives them $800 in Bitcoin, they'll expose him. Leo says it's called ransomware. Leo says it's probably from a data breach.
Petya is the latest ransomware hitting millions of computers around the world. Most infected computers are in the Ukraine, where "patient zero" is believed to be. From there it branched out to Russia, Poland, Italy and Germany. It takes advantage of the same flaws in Windows 10 that WannaCry did. Fortunately, it hasn't really hit the U.S. yet, but we'll see more infections as time goes on. Our CIA intelligence service discovered it and didn't say anything because it could use it to spy on others.
Image: SecureList / AO Kaspersky Lab
Mary has an old XP computer and she's worried about getting the WannaCry virus. Can she get a patch to protect herself? Leo says that Microsoft has ended life for Windows XP, but did make a patch for it and she can go into Updates and get it. But according to Leo, 98% of infected computers with WannaCry are Windows 7 computers. So XP isn't even on the radar. It doesn't hurt to be safe, though.
WannaCry is ransomware that can lock up your data unless you pay the hacker who created it. WannaKiwi, however, finds the crypto key in your PCs RAM to undo the damage. It only seems to work about a third of the time, however. That's why Leo says to make sure you don't get it by altering your behavior, and by making sure you have current backups of your data should it happen. One thing you should never do is pay up, because you don't know if you'll get your data back, or if there's something even worse getting installed.
Last weekend, the WannaCry Ransomware bit several hundred thousand computer systems, including sixteen hospitals in the UK. The ransomware infected the systems and encrypted all data. The reason this one was really bad is that it was a "worm," or a "network aware virus" that would spread out over the local area network to find other computers to infect, and bring the whole establishment to its knees.
Grover has a popup that says to call Microsoft Support. Has he been bit by ransomware? Leo says no, probably not. It's a phishing attack, but it's to try and get him to call in and then they charge him and access his computer. It's Scareware, really. He can ignore it, but it keeps popping up and he has to reboot his system to get rid of it. He even replaced the hard drive, but it didn't help.
The latest ransomware attack is called WannaCry and it's spreading via phishing email attacks. The ransomware not only encrypts your data — it also has a built-in kill switch on websites. Security researchers may have crafted a fix to it, but there's a catch. The encryption is done using Microsoft's bit locker, and the fix is to take advantage of a flaw in the cryptographic memory that keeps the keys in RAM so it can harvest them and unlock your data.