According to reports, more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries have been negatively impacted by the WannaCry ransomware virus, with many individuals and organizations seeking expert opinions to determine if they are a potential victim of these threats. Leaked earlier this year, the WannaCry ransomware virus uses a flaw in Microsoft’s operating system that was discovered by the U.S. National Security Agency and leaked by individuals, spreading rapidly across local and wide area networks around the world. No country was spared in this attack and those suffering under the consequences of the virus continue to mount. There appeared to be a pause in the activity of the virus as a result of a kill switch that was discovered by an IT security expert in the United Kingdom. Activating the kill switch halted the progress of the virus but many individuals and organizations are still feeling the impact of this malware.
Ransomware is malicious malware that comes in the form of a software download or other transmission vehicle that locks files on a computer and demands payments to release them. Ransomware threats have been rising steadily for some time. However, the most recent attacks by WannaCry were referred to as “unprecedented” by European authorities because of the scope and scale of many successful attacks. WannaCry can affect computers running the Windows operating system, but many systems have been untouched by the virus through simple IT housekeeping.
The software development experts at WPS Office note that there are steps that can be taken to prevent ransomware attacks. Furthermore, for WPS Office customers, there are remedies available to retrieve encrypted files if an attack has already occurred. The guidance for WPS users on the Microsoft operating system is to ensure that the Windows Update is run regularly to download the latest operating system patches and fixes. Next, the user’s computing device should have anti-virus installed if not already in place and checked to ensure that software is also up to date. Experts also advise that the virus software should be set to scan automatically to identify and protect against possible threats, making it more difficult for these viruses to succeed. Additionally, all data on PCs and servers should be backed up to a remote location or device so that it cannot be held for ransom. Finally, two significant, yet simple safeguards known to prevent such attacks include inspecting links sent through email before clicking on them and avoiding the download of any unknown software as a daily best practice.
WPS Office users that have been impacted by ransomware have options available to them that can be used to retrieve data. First, those storing their office files in WPS Cloud may simply login to their account and download the imprisoned files in a matter of minutes to either the affected computer or any other computing device available. Alternately, those with files stored only on their PC have the ability to use the WPS Data Recovery Tool. This tool is for those files originally stored on a local device (ie: desktop or laptop). Originally developed by WPS Office to recover accidentally deleted data, the WPS Data Recovery Tool can now be used to recover any office file on the user’s device. This includes Writer, Presentation, or Spreadsheet files that have simply disappeared as a result of a ransomware attack.
Unfortunately, the spread of ransomware is in its early stages and destined to continue to have a severe impact on both individuals and businesses. The benefit of WPS Office is that there are methods of recovering data that has fallen subject to WannaCry or any other variant. In the event that your data is impounded by ransomware, experts advise remaining calm and reviewing your computing environment for available options made possible by following the advice above. Do not pay the ransom demanded by the ransomware as there is no guarantee that your data will be unlocked and returned – and there is no refund of your ransom if the perpetrators do not release the files. Follow the guidance above if you do experience a ransomware attack and contact law enforcement to provide as many details as possible in order to help identify the perpetrators.