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The latest ransomware attack is the type that could kill someone

The ransomware attacks spreading across at least 99 countries on Friday are the type of attack that could one day kill someone.

That sounds like hyperbole, but this attack froze and disrupted computers inside many National Health Service hospitals in the United Kingdom, and it’s not hard to see how an attack on hospital computer systems affects patient care or, at the very least, forces patients in need to find help elsewhere as hospital staff scramble to get vital systems back online. That type of disruption, combined with a person faced with a life-threatening condition, has the potential to result in the loss of life.

Cybersecurity experts have long used the phrase “where bits and bytes meet flesh and blood,” which signifies a cyber attack in which someone is physically harmed.

There’s no indication that someone was harmed on Friday as a result of this particular attack. But UK hospitals were forced to redirect patients from affected hospitals after a ransomware virus spread through hospital computers, locking them down and demanding Bitcoin payment in exchange for the return of the information contained in those computers


Prevent Yourself From Ransomware Attacks

Update your software

Security experts believe the malware that spurred this global attack, called WannaCry, may have initially infected machines by getting people to download it through email. After that, the malicious code was able to easily travel to a broader network of computers that were linked together through the Windows file-sharing system.

Consumers can remedy this by configuring their Windows machines to automatically install the latest software updates.

Install antivirus software

In addition to keeping Windows up-to-date with the latest security enhancements, antivirus software can prevent malware from infecting your computer. Of course, with antivirus software, the same principle applies: Make sure to keep the antivirus app up-to-date, too, so it blocks the latest emerging malware.

Be wary of suspicious emails and pop-ups

Security experts believe WannaCry may have initially infected machines via email attachments.Ransomware developers often use pop-up windows that advertise software products that remove malware. Do not click on anything through these pop-ups, then safely close the windows.

Microsoft warns ransomware cyber-attack is a wake-up call

It blamed governments for storing data on software vulnerabilities which could then be accessed by hackers.

It says the latest virus exploits a flaw in Microsoft Windows identified by and stolen from, US intelligence.

Many firms have had experts working over the weekend to prevent new infections. The virus took control of users’ files and demanded $300 (£230) payments to restore access.

The spread of the WannaCry ransomware attack slowed over the weekend but the respite might only be brief, experts have said. More than 200,000 computers have been affected so far.

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