NSA Highlights Danger of New Windows Bug BlueKeep [3]

By Josh Harding [4], ABA Systems Administrator

Last week, the National Security Agency issued a press release [5] urging all Windows users to update their computers against a bug known as BlueKeep. This bug represents a critical security vulnerability to all Windows systems released in the past 18 years. It is being used to infect systems with ransomware, a type of malware that blocks access to your computer and files and demands payment to regain access to your system. Any computer infected becomes a carrier to infect further computers.

It’s always a good idea to keep computers updated, but this has become ever more important over the past several years, as ransomware attacks have increased. The city of Baltimore is still reeling from a ransomware attack [6] that is holding hostage many of the systems critical to its computer infrastructure; this attack could have been avoided if the city had updated its systems in a timely manner. A city’s infrastructure grinding to a halt makes headlines, but millions of individuals and countless small businesses have also been attacked.

Here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself:

1.) Update your computing devices (including phones and tablets). You should be notified of pending updates, but it never hurts to check if there’s something waiting to be installed. It only takes a minute; check once a week. 

2.) Run antivirus software. Both Windows and Mac operating systems have a basic level of antivirus built in, but additional protection will never hurt.

3.) Back up your systems. This is as important as it is overlooked. Services like Backblaze [7] and Carbonite [8] make backups painless and inexpensive. If you lose everything, whether it is due to ransomware or hardware failure, a backup service will give you a road to quick recovery.