WannaCry is a nasty computer virus that’s dominated a lot of the international news recently. The ransomware only affects computers that are running on an older version of Windows, but it has been designed to include a “worm” that, once installed, begins to actively look for other computers to also infect.

That’s why it’s so potentially devastating for many large businesses.


The good news

The good news is that if you aren’t already infected, there are lots of excellent steps you can make to protect you from the virus. Here are five of the first ones you should consider:


Step one – Warn everyone to be vigilant

The people who work the computers attached to your network need to be aware of what WannaCry is, how it can spread, and most importantly, how it can enter your system. Make sure everyone knows not to open files or attachments they aren’t expecting. If there’s even the slightest hint of there being something wrong, don’t open it. A lot of automated spam emails can be discovered when they disguise the name of the sender. Just check the email address, and if it doesn’t look valid or is nonsensical, alert a supervisor or manager to take a look. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!


Step two – Windows Update

Lots of people disable Microsoft’s Windows Update feature, but it is quite important in helping prevent viruses like WannaCry. Windows Update is on constant watch to make sure security patches for your system are up to date. If anything isn’t, it automatically downloads the most recent version to keep you as safe and secure as Microsoft can possibly make things. If you’re using an older version of Windows like XP or Windows 8, you can download critical security patches by going to the Microsoft website.


Step three – Install a ransomware blocker

There are a lot of ransomware blockers available on the Internet from extremely good cyber-security companies that have a proven track record of stopping attacks like these. Many of these are free, but if you want to make absolutely sure you have the absolute best available product, shop around and check the reviews in the popular computer ezines.


Step four – Backup your files and systems

Your main hard drive is worth its weight in gold when it can’t be accessed because of a system crash or ransomware infection. You know you need to backup your system on a regular basis because if you do, a potentially massive loss of data can be only a minor inconvenience rather than a major disaster. If you don’t backup everything, then make sure you make backups of your most important files and keep the backup drive disconnected from the main ones when not in use.

Otherwise, a virus like WannaCry could conceivably infect your backup drive too. Disaster recovery planning is essential.


If you’re already infected?

If you’re already infected, there are some dedicated programs that can purge your computer of the ransomware but, unfortunately, the chances that you will be able to get all of your data back are slim.

Most experts agree that you should never pay the ransom because there is very little chance that even if you do, your files will probably never be restored.