Security experts are warning Windows users to make sure that their operating system has all the latest security updates applied before the start of next week as continued ransomware attacks are likely, if not imminent.
Windows users are facing an unprecedented risk of catching a nasty ransomware infection as Friday’s ransomware attacks are still spreading and fresh attacks are likely.
On Monday, millions of workers will be switching on their computers for the first time since Friday afternoon, meaning there is still plenty of opportunity for ransomware already “in the wild” to continue spreading.
And with the possibility that fresh ransomware attacks may begin next week too, it is imperative that all the latest security updates for Windows are applied, regardless of whether you’re an IT system admin or a home user.
Microsoft released updates for this vulnerability last March and also released fresh patches on Friday amidst the attacks, which were so large-scale that Microsoft took the unusual step of releasing patches for unsupported operating systems, including Windows XP.
This means that even if you’re a Windows XP user, you need to install the latest Windows security updates!
Most users should be applying their Windows Updates automatically, in which case you should already be protected against these threats.
However if you don’t or you’re not sure, then you urgently need to install those updates now, or risk falling prey to ransomware.
Unlike many ransomware infections, this latest strain – dubbed WannaCry – doesn’t require users to install it themselves (for example by being tricked into opening a malicious email attachment.) Instead, WannaCry has attached itself to a computer worm, which is software capable of spreading automatically between computers. That computer worm is using known software vulnerabilities to spread and infect new machines, which is why having the latest security updates is so important.
One of the reasons this ransomware campaign has become so effective is due to so many people still using Windows XP, an operating system that – until this weekend – was vulnerable to this attack despite Microsoft releasing updates for this vulnerability last March. XP is not supported any longer meaning no users would have received those updates.