Amid the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, the rising tension between the United States of America and China over the issue on freedom of navigation at the South China Sea and the raging war on terror against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Syria and Iran, there is another kind of war now raging globally where control and dominance at the front are not measured in terms of military power, but on computer wizardry.
Called cyber war, it is an Internet-based conflict involving politically and/or economically motivated attacks on information and information systems. Cyber-warfare attacks can disable official web sites and networks, disrupt or disable essential services, steal or alter classified data and cripple financial systems, among others.
On May 12 cyber warfare flared again, hitting most parts of Europe, Asia and the Americas with the tremendously damaging ransomware, WannaCrypt, which targets out-of-date Windows devices as it stops you from using your PC by holding all files unless ransom is paid. Specifically, ransomware, which can target any personal-computer (PC) user, whether its a home computer, endpoints in an enterprise network or servers used by a government or health-care provider, can prevent you from accessing windows, encrypt files so you can’t use them and stop certain apps from running, like your web browser, among others. Ransomware will demand that you pay money as “ransom” to get access to your PC or files again.
Ransomware is classified into two types, the lockscreen and the encryption. The lockscreen ransomware will show on your computer monitor a message that you need to pay money as “ransom” before you can access your PC again., while the encryption ransomeware will change your files so you can’t open them, unless you also pay a “ransom”.
PC users beware
Ransomware can inflict computers from almost any source that any other malware or viruses can come from, like visiting unsafe, suspicious or fake web sites, opening unknown e-mails and e-mail attachments, clicking on malicious or bad links in e-mails, Facebook, Twitter and other social- media posts and instant messenger chats, like Skype.
Once infected with ransomware, it would be very difficult to restore your computer to its old shape.That is why it would be best for PC users to be very extra careful with the use of the Internet. Be on the lookout for fake e-mails and web pages. Oftentimes, these e-mails and web pages have poor spelling and punctuation marks, like instead of “PayPal”, it is misspelled as “PayePal”. Don’t click on a web-page link, an e-mail or a chat message, unless you trust the page or sender. And most important, if you’re unsure of the message or the web page, don’t click at all.
The global cyber attack
Considered as the world’s biggest cyber hit, ransomware’s recent attack affected at least 150 countries. It affected over 300,000 computers in just a matter of days from its breakout. The victims included hospitals, manufacturers,universities and government agencies in countries, like Britain, China, Russia, Germany and Spain. And the list is growing. Even global companies have been targeted by ransomware.
In China, according to its state-run media, some gas stations experienced digital-payment shutdown, forcing customers to pay cash for their transactions. In Germany, the German railway company’s passenger information displays in some stations were left inoperative, together with its ticket machines.
In Japan, a globally known manufacturing and shipbuilding company, reported having problems receiving e-mails and opening its attachments. In the UK, at least, 16 National Health Service providers were affected, prompting the UK government to call for a meeting of its Crisis Reponse Committee. While India reported that in the state of Andhra Pradesh, 25 percent of its system was hit by the attack.
And in the Philippines, while we have not been gravely affected by the ransomware attack, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, nevertheless, issued an order to Philippine banks to boost the defenses of their system, amid the ransomware crisis that has already affected a large part of the global community.
A PC-dependent world
The global community is mostly linked with each other, 24/7 and at real time, by the Internet. And at any given time, billions or even trillions in information kilobytes crissross the cyber space closing billions of dollars worth of business transactions, keeping separated families together and even clarifying issues of global security concerns.
There is no doubt the Internet will continue to influence our lives and the lives of the coming generations, as well. So it would be best for PC and Internet users to be very careful with their gadgets and the Internet, especially now that the world is under attack.
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