Contributing to this article:  Jason Walther, former Chief Engineer, Townsquare Media (Lansing) and Ron Kramer, Michigan Network Consultants (Lansing).

One of the largest cyberattacks ever is currently eating the web, hitting PCs in countries and businesses around the world. WannaCry can invade your computers without any action on your part and encrypt your files and hold them ransom until a payment (usually $300) is made to the perpetrators behind this attack.

WannaCry exploits a hole in unpatched Windows computers in order to infect them.  While Microsoft provided an update months ago that will prevent this exploit, computers that have not been receiving and installing automatic updates are at risk.

Some advice from our experts:

1-Make sure your Windows machine is updated so the file sharing SMB client is newer than SMBv1.  Simply updating your machine for both Windows and Linux users fixes this.

2- Make sure you do NOT have your machine connected directly to the Internet without some kind of firewall appliance (in your router or otherwise).  Make sure you have not opened any port forwarding or triggers for port 449, or anything else for that matter, unless you’re sure you know what apps use which ports on the network. Most cable modems include a firewall so you are probably good if you’re on a consumer grade data service.

3- If you do not need to share files, turn OFF file sharing – do a Google search to learn how. If you are really ambitious, create users and set passwords and then turn on password protected sharing (there are plenty of good examples of how this is done on Google).

Again, this malware spreads via exposure to the internet and does not utilize any provocation on your part to execute. To setup house, it does need an unprotected Windows computer and it can encrypt files on any share.

Tethering using a coffee shop, public WiFi or hotspot on your cell phone is a vulnerability, especially with Windows 7 and before. Starting with Windows 8, firewalls automatically turn on, but before that, they did not.

The Key here is making sure you have Windows up to Date!

Please be aware that unless your computer does NOT have a cord plugged in, it needs to be updated.