By Brian Fung | The Washington Post
Security experts are bracing for more fallout from Friday’s worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack, which has so far affected more than 150 countries and major businesses and organizations, including FedEx, Renault and Britain’s National Health Service. But if you’re just hearing about this attack — or waking up to an unresponsive computer of your own — here’s what you need to understand about what law enforcement officials have called the biggest such attack in history.
Ransomware is a kind of malicious software that, as its name implies, takes a computer hostage and holds it for ransom. In this case, the attackers are asking for at least $300 in bitcoins for each computer affected by the attack.
With ransomware attacks, the malware locks down a target machine, encrypting its data and preventing the owner from accessing it until he or she agrees to pay up.
“WannaCry, the most recent ransomware to make headlines, is compromising computers and data around the world. Businesses and individuals can easily become unsuspecting victims of such ransomware. Simple proactive steps, however, can help lower that risk. Some of these steps include making sure to back up your most important information and files, installing appropriate software updates, using complex passwords, and treating emails, links, and websites with caution.”