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Information Security Alert

Recently, a large scale ransomware attack has been spreading across the globe, disrupting computer systems and communications at hospitals, government offices, and other types of companies.  The software locks computers making them unusable.

The ransomware, known as WannaCry or WannaCrypt, locks you out of your systems until you pay the crooks who installed it.  It takes advantage of a security hole in Windows server software that can be closed by downloading and applying the update from Microsoft.

Here is how you can check to see if the patch has been installed and how to apply it.

Please follow these steps to use the Microsoft Update site to install all critical updates for your computer.  Please note that the update process will vary based on the version of Microsoft Windows you are running.  Locate your version and follow the corresponding steps.

To turn on automatic updates in Windows 10:

Note:  Windows 10 is a service, which means automatic updates are turned on by default and your PC always has the latest and best features.

  1. Select the Startbutton, then select Settings  > Update & security  > Windows Update . If you want to check for updates manually, select Check for updates.
  2. Select Advanced options, and then under Choose how updates are installed, select Automatic (recommended).

To turn on automatic updates in Windows 8.1:

  1. Open Windows Update by swiping in from the right edge of the screen (or, if you’re using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen and moving the mouse pointer up), select Settings > Change PC settings > Update and recovery > Windows Update. If you want to check for updates manually, select Check now.
  2. Select Choose how updates get installed, and then under Important updates, select Install updates automatically (recommended).
  3. Under Recommended updates, select the Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates check box.
  4. Under Microsoft Update, select the Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows check box, and then select Apply.

To turn on automatic updates in Windows 7:

  1. Select the Start button.  In the search box, enter Update, and then, in the list of results, select Windows Update.
  2. In the left pane, select Change settings, and then under Important updates, select Install updates automatically (recommended).
  3. Under Recommended updates, select the Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates check box, and then select OK.

Note:

If you use an older Windows network system no longer supported by Microsoft, you may not have been prompted to download security updates, but they’re available from Microsoft’s site.

In addition to keeping software up-to-date, here are a couple of other things you can do to defend against a ransomware attack:

  • Back up your files. From accounting to tax documents, make it part of your routine to back up files often on your computers and mobile devices.
  • Think twice before clicking on links or downloading attachments and apps. Ransomware often is downloaded through phishing emails.  You also can get ransomware from visiting a compromised site or through malicious online ads.
  • Get Antivirus. Make sure any anti-virus product is up to date and scan your computer for any malicious programs.  It’s also worth setting up regular auto-scans.
  • Patch your system. Apply vendor suppled patches whenever technically possible.  This includes Microsoft Operating Systems and 3rd party applications, such as Adobe Reader and Flash.

Additional Resources:

Microsoft has more tips on keeping you safe from ransomware at their Malware Protection Center. Additionally, Pekin Insurance has created Agency Security Guidelines to help minimize the risk to independent Pekin Insurance agency networks.

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