The National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, on Saturday issued an emergency advise to Nigerians about a rampaging ransomware virus that emerged across the globe on Friday.
Within the last 24 hours, no fewer than 100,000 computers were reported affected in 99 countries by ransomware, which encrypts a computer and demands a $300 ransom before unlocking it.
The virus, also known as “WannaCry” or “Wannacrypt”, is believed to be part of the United States National Security Agency hacking tools that were leaked earlier in the year.
The ransomware virus swept computers running on Microsoft Windows Operating System, especially those not currently supported such as Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003, across the globe.
In March, Microsoft, in an unusual move, released a patch for all the old, non-supported operating systems to protect computers vulnerable to the NSA leaks, but the ransomware virus proved so malicious that Microsoft had to issue another patch for all Windows OS-based computers dating back as far as 14 years.
Notable organisations affected by the virus since Friday include the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, along with Telefonica in Spain. Courier giant, FedEx, was also hit by the virus, Sky News reported.
All recent Microsoft computers are automatically protected from the virus, reports said.
In a statement issued by its Director General, Ibrahim Pantami, NITDA gave Nigerians guidelines on how to protect their 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.
For emergency assistance, contact NITDA Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team (CERRT) on: 800-9988-7766- 5544 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.