It's time for all of us to learn from cyber attacks on FedEx and NHS, and become computer literate ourselves

It's time for all of us to learn from cyber attacks on FedEx and NHS, and become computer literate ourselves

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Ransomware WannaCrypt, also known as WannaCry, has attacked hundreds of thousands of computers, encrypting computer files and demanding US$300 in bitcoins to decrypt the files.
Photo: EPA

A massive outbreak of malicious software has taken down more than 200,000 computers across the globe since May 12, and held them for ransom.

WannaCrypt is a type of ransomware that exploits loopholes in Windows systems. It paralyses an infected computer by encrypting all the files, forcing you to pay money if you want your files to be restored.

A large number of computer systems are reported to have been attacked, including those of delivery giant FedEx, Britain’s National Health Service, and Germany’s train stations.

In the midst of the attacks, we were very fortunate to have cybersecurity professionals analyse the intrusions and work on eliminating the ransomware. It turns out that the attacks could have been easily avoided by installing a Windows update released in March earlier this year.


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Many shared this information online but others failed to take action because of a lack of basic computer knowledge.

We must learn from these outrageous attacks and reflect upon our understanding of computer security.

It’s concerning to see so many computers users struggle when it comes to cybersecurity. I’m not saying every user has to be a cybersecurity expert, but everyone should learn some basics of how to protect their data – and, at the very least, update their systems from time to time.

Many of us who grew up in the technological era started using computers and devices very early on. Yet only a few of us are capable of using information technology (IT) safely and wisely.

One reason for this is inadequate IT lessons. How can we expect students to learn when computer lessons are treated as a gaming session?

The Hong Kong government is devoted to pushing technological development, but it has overlooked the importance of nurturing IT talents; building a Cyberport doesn’t guarantee a batch of IT professionals.

The government needs to catch up with reality, stop creating white elephant projects, and instead develop the existing IT education curriculum.

Computer literacy is an essential skill which everyone should acquire. As technology continues to intertwine with our lives, learning computer skills is more important than ever. We must equip ourselves with safety measures in both the real world, and the virtual one.

Edited by Andrew McNicol

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