How to keep your PC safe from the WannaCry attacks

Repeat after us: Windows Update is your (very annoying) friend

If you haven't heard already, the WannaCry malware attack has spread across the world, affecting more than 200,000 computers in a reported 150 countries.

Think you might not be affected? As long as you're running Windows, and especially if you're running a version older than Windows 10, you might still be at risk. In Malaysia, the Cyber Security Agency has urged users to take critical precautions, while Kaspersky has confirmed a few of its Malaysian customers have been affected.

Here's what to do to keep yourself safe.

1. Download the special patch

Microsoft has worked hard to provide patches for all operating systems, even ones it doesn't technically support such as Windows 2003 and Windows XP. Downloading a patch for your computer should be the first thing on your to-do list.

Where do you get a patch? If you're on Windows 10, all you need to do is click on the search icon on the taskbar, search for 'check for updates' which should take you to the Windows Update screen. If it shows that your system is up-to-date, then you have nothing to worry about. Otherwise, update it from the Updates page.

Everyone else? Go to this Microsoft link to download the patch specific to your OS, whether it is XP, Vista, 7 or 8.

2. Scan with either an antivirus or Windows Defender

If you have a separate antivirus program, update and run it now. If you don't have one, you will have Windows Defender preinstalled. Update that and run it instead.

Even if you have already updated your OS, there is nothing wrong with doing a scan just in case.

3. Make sure your firewall is on

Check your network settings and ensure your firewall is turned on. It should be under Control Panel >System and Security.

Make sure your firewall state is "On" and that the "Block all connections to apps that are not on the list of allowed apps" is enabled.

4. Backup important files

Ensure that your important files and settings are saved in either cloud services such as Google Drive, iCloud or OneDrive or on a backup hard drive.

That way if something happens to your computers, you won't lose your important data.

5. Compromised? Get help

If WannaCry does infect your PC, whatever you do, don't pay the ransom hackers demand. If you lose your data, so be it. It's been compromised anyhow.

Should your PC still come under warranty, send it in for servicing. If it isn't, then format your PC and get help with it if you need to. You can start by reading up basic partitioning and formatting on the Microsoft site.

Most importantly, disconnect from the Internet. Don't let your PC be used to pass the malware on to another computer.