Nigeria has issued an advisory on how to protect your computer from ransomware currently affecting over 99 countries globally. More than 45,000 attacks recorded in countries including the UK, Russia, India and China may have originated with theft of ‘cyber weapons’ from the NSA.

A ransomware cyber-attack that may have originated from the theft of “cyber weapons” from the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US government has been terrifying the globe. More than 45,000 attacks in 99 countries, including the UK, Russia, Ukraine, India, China, Italy, and Egypt were recorded. The attack has left devastating effects like crippling hospitals in England and major telecommunication companies like Telefónica in Spain.

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user’s data, then demands payment in exchange for unlocking the data. In this incident, malicious software called “WanaCrypt0r 2.0” or WannaCry, that has the ability to exploit a weakness in Windows was used. Microsoft released a software update that fixes the problem (a patch) for the flaw in March, but computers that have not installed the security update remain vulnerable.

The malware was made available online on 14 April through a dump by A group called Shadow Brokers, claimed to have stolen a cache of “cyber weapons” from the National Security Agency (NSA) last year. This year they made it available online on April 14. The NSA was initially sceptical but has been criticised of acting too slow and for stockpiling these vulnerabilities instead of giving it to persons capable of fixing them. The attack is stated by cyber security experts not to target big institutions but ‘anyone that got it’

In Nigeria, the Director General, of NITDA, Ibrahim Pantami, issued guidelines on protection of personal and workplace computers from being affected by ransomware.

“Should your system be infected by ransomware, isolate the system from your network to prevent the threat from further spreading. In addition, the following actions can be taken immediately:

  • Remove the system from Network.
  • Do not use flash/pen drive, external drives on the System to copy files to other systems.
  • Format the System completely and get fresh OS copy installed.

As a general precautionary measure, NITDA recommended that individuals and organisations should:

  • Regularly update their operating systems with the latest patches.
  • Regularly update their software applications with latest patches.
  • Avoid downloading and opening unsolicited files and attachments.
  • Adjust security software to scan compressed or archived files.

Avoid indiscriminate use of wireless connections, such as Bluetooth or infrared ports.

If in need of emergency assistance, contact NITDA Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team (CERRT) on: 800-9988-7766- 5544 or e-mail: support@cerrt.ng.

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