This month, attackers launched a global ransomware attack on a scale the world has never seen. Many vital agencies, such as hospitals and telecommunications firms, were incapacitated due to their computers being shut down by this malware. Though a security researcher thankfully killed it off preventing further spread, it’s still wise to make sure you’re protected against these types of attacks in the future.
We now know that the ransomware spread due an exploit in the Windows Server Messaging Block (SMB) protocol version 1. This is an outdated version of SMB, used to share files and printers among networked computers, that Windows still supports for backwards compatibility. Microsoft patched this issue in March, but affected computers were still vulnerable to attack if they were running the archaic Windows XP or hadn’t applied updated in Windows 7 for months.
On your own system, you can disable SMB 1.0 in just a moment — and because 99 percent of home users don’t need the old and insecure version of this protocol, you can shut it off without any loss of functionality.
Type Turn Windows features into the Start Menu and click the entry for Turn Windows features on or off. Scroll down to SMB 1.0/CIFS File Sharing Support and uncheck the box. Give Windows a moment to apply the changes, then you’ll have to restart your computer to complete the action. Once that’s done, you’ve disabled the awful, insecure protocol from running on your computer.
There’s no telling what kind of exploit the next big attack will take advantage of, but the most important advice remains the same. Make sure you’re automatically installing Windows Updates so you’re running the latest security patches. If businesses had made sure their Windows 7 machines weren’t outdated, the WannaCry attack wouldn’t have been nearly as bad.
Have you disabled SMB version 1 on your computer? Let us know if you knew anyone affected by WannaCry by leaving a comment!
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