Recently ransomware attacks have been in the news very frequently. Out of them, the 2 attacks, NotPetya and WannaCry, have been in the trending ones. These were seen making windows vulnerable a lot of times, but both the attackers are completely different from each other. Both the ransomwares use certain Windows exploits stolen from the NSA (The US National Security Agency) server, but their functions are completely different.
Wannacry infects your system running on Microsoft Windows Operating System and encrypts all your data. After encrypting the data, it demands you to add a certain amount of money to a Bitcoin wallet in exchange for the decryption key. There is no way to access the data without that decryption key.
NotPetya is not exactly a ransomware. It is much worse and much more destructive. In this case, the victims cannot recover the data even if they pay the money. It wipes away the data from the infected system’s disk, so it is impossible to bring it back.
To stop any such problem in future, Microsoft is taking steps in its newer version of operating system Windows 10. Though Windows 10 was never at risk from such malwares. The leaked NSA exploits primarily deals with Windows 7 or lesser versions like Windows XP. During the recent Windows update, Microsoft introduced updates to the way permissions were handled. They have given an option of ‘Controlled Folder Access’. When there are multiple users using same computer system, the users can switch on the CFA button and restrict the access of one user’s files by the other users. Unless the files are shared, other users cannot access the files.
CFA allows you to mark certain directories as “Protected”. Important folders like documents, pictures and movies are protected by default. Windows Defender will govern these folders and only the applications whitelisted by you will have access to the files or folders. For example, if only Microsoft Excel has access to a particular folder, then Media Player or Notepad will not be able to access that particular folder.
Their approach is aimed at protecting user data. But technical experts say that though it will be able to prevent attacks from malware like WannaCry, it will not be able to stand against deadlier malwares. NotPetya will still damage your data. But either way, your data will definitely be safer against less sophisticated malwares. However, the protection and CFA only works if you have the updated and genuine Windows version in your system. All the latest updates need to be installed to protect your computer against these malwares. Running on Windows 7 or lesser is full of danger where the safety of your data is concerned.
Microsoft is testing a new update for windows to save the users from future ransomwareattacks. The new version will limit the access of documents in your system to keep it safe from any cyber-attack.