Best Protection Against Ransomware? Security Updates!

It has been well documented that the recent Wannacry (Wanna Crypt) ransomware attack targeted legacy (non supported) operating systems like Windows Vista, XP, Server 2003, Server 2008, and non-professional versions of Windows 7 (Windows 7 starter, home basic, and home premium). These operating systems (OS) all had a vulnerability that was exploited by cyber criminals and infected hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe. As an IT professional, it blew my mind that there are so many computers out there running legacy Operating Systems!

Many users have disabled automatic update features (for the average user this cannot be done in Windows 10) as they can cause performance issues in some systems. Unfortunately, the longer an out of date computer is connected to the internet, the more vulnerable it is to an attack. Cyber criminals sometimes work for years to find a way to hack into a system – and they almost always attack legacy, out of date, or non-updated versions of software or operating systems. If you have disabled updates or do not know if your computer is up to date, then follow along as I walk you through this simple process.

 Checking for updates is a simple process that takes between 15 to 20 seconds to complete manually. This step-by-step guide was completed using a Windows 10 machine, but will work on most versions of Windows (non Windows 10 users will see slightly different screens, but the information will be the same).

1)      Click on the Windows Icon in the bottom left corner of the display and start typing “Windows Update” (some users will have to type this into the “search” feature in older versions of Windows).

2)      Select “Check for Updates” (or similar) to start the update wizard.
3)      Wait for Windows to download the updates.

4)      Restart your computer to complete the installation process.

In step 2 you will notice that the update status stated “your device is up to date. Last checked: Yesterday, 10:53 AM”. For giggles, I clicked the “Check for Updates” and, low-and-behold, an updated for Windows Defender was available! The moral of the story? Do not blindly trust Windows, always check for updates.

One annoying part of Windows 10 is that the updates seem to come at random times. I know this because quite often I will sit down at my desk in the morning and notice that my computer or laptop restarted sometime in the night due to an update. At this point it is a gamble for how long the update will actually take to install after I log in – it seems that it always takes longer when I have a pressing need to use my computer! To combat this annoyance, head to the “Advanced options” menu on the “Windows Update” page and enabled the “Use my sign in info to automatically finish setting up my device after an update”. This poses no security risks as the computer is automatically locked after the update has been installed.

There will be a similar process for updating software; a quick Google search goes a long way to ensuring your vertical applications and productivity software suites are up to date and secure against known threats. Updating routers and printer software is also highly recommended, but is not covered in this article. If you need help updating your network to protect against known threats, then contact your IT support vendor. If you do not have a dedicated IT support vendor, then feel free to contact me at info@cloudcraftit.com so we can get you sorted out.

Thank you for your time, stay safe out there! If you found this article informative or helpful, then please leave a comment and be sure to share it.

About the author; Jim Morris is a classically trained IT professional who has first hand experience with the pain of unsecure components on business networks. His mission in life is to provide small business owners with affordable services that increase their ability to conduct business safely on the internet. He is a dedicated husband, father, and son who spends his down time vacationing with family, visiting friends, coaching lacrosse, mountain biking, and enjoying all things Marvel, Star Wars and Science Fiction. #velocity #optimizeme #YYCadvantage. Follow him on Twitter @CloudCraftIT for tips, tricks, and IT news for small business owners.