Does the WannaCrypt Ransomware Affect Websites?

This is the last thing you want to see when you turn on your computer!

Over the last few days, you may have heard the news about the world’s biggest cyberattack in the form of a ransomware named WannaCrypt that was spreading around the globe, infecting computers and rendering them inoperable unless the victims pays the hackers a ransom.

Clients have asked us, “does this impact me or my website?” And the answer is that your computer and your website are separate entities so… not exactly… but maybe.

First things first. Do you know what ransomware is? Basically it’s a virus that locks up your computer and demands you pay a ransom to regain access. Pretty frightening stuff.

About a month or so ago, you may recall hearing in the news that some of the U.S. governments’ best hacking tools were leaked to the public. One of those tools was to exploit computers with outdated versions of Microsoft Windows. After discovering this vulnerability exists, hackers quickly jumped at the chance to write a virus that could easily infect computers that didn’t have the latest Microsoft patches in place.

So if you’re running a Windows computer, you need to get on the ball and make sure you have the latest security patches in place.

But can this effect your website?
From what we’ve read, this particular virus does not seem to be attacking websites. It’s tied to Microsoft computers. Your websites are typically hosted on cloud-based servers that use completely different software than Windows. Of course, if your hosting company’s corporate computers get infected, they may have difficulty running their larger operations. But one would hope, and frankly expect, that hosting companies are on the ball and performing regular software updates.

There could be other implications though. For example, perhaps you have all your passwords (website, hosting and otherwise) stored in an unprotected file on your computer. And your computer gets infected with the ransomware. And you no longer have access to all those passwords. Or worse, a new variation of this virus appears in the future where the hackers actually grab the data off your computer, rather than just hold it for ransom. If they get access to your passwords, that could spell big trouble.

Here’s another scenario which could impact you… the hackers gain access to the computers of your friends and family. And start sending out fake emails from their accounts, claiming to be them. And asking for money. Or making extortion threats.

To make a long story short, we’re living in a time where nothing is 100% safe online. You should be accepting of the fact that its time to step up your online security game, whether that means using stronger passwords or being more diligent about performing software updates.

Though we are NOT I.T. experts (web design is more of our thing) we do have a lot of contacts in the I.T. industry. So if you’re looking for assistance with computer patching and what not, let us know and we can hopefully help steer you in the right direction.