NAIROBI, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's telecommunication industry regulator on Sunday warned over a cyber attack that is targeting computers around the world and advised Kenyans to exercise caution to avoid falling victim.
The Communications Authority (CA) cautioned Kenyans to keep a backup of all their files offline to ensure that they can restore them in case they are attacked.
"Once a computer is infected with the virus, it tries to infect other computers in the same network. Individuals and organizations are discouraged from paying the ransom as this does not guarantee access will be restored," CA Director General Francis Wangusi said in a statement.
Wangusi said the ransomware virus, which goes by the name Winery or WannaCrypt0r or WanaDecrypt0r, has been reported to have infected tens of thousands in many countries around the world and continues to spread.
Once a computer has been attacked, users cannot access their files unless they pay a 300 U.S. dollar ransom to a Bit Coin account.
The encryption based cyber attack manifests itself as "ransomware" and attacks computers running on Windows operating system. The malicious software infects a computer and restricts user access until a ransom is paid to unlock it.
Wangusi said its existence has been confirmed by the National Kenya Computer Incidence Response Team Coordination Centre (KE-CIRT-CC).
"The authority (CA) is therefore advising the public to beware and put in place the following preventive measures," Wangusi said.
He advised that individuals and organizations should ensure their computers have updated anti-virus as well as an offline data back-up system.
"This will ensure that in the event your computer is attacked, you can restore your files from the back-up," said Wangusi.
Most at risk are those using computers running on old Windows operating systems especially Windows XP. Microsoft however has said it would roll out the update to users of older operating systems.
It is still not known who is behind the attacks but international investigators have kicked off a major manhunt for those behind the cyber-attack that affected systems in dozens of countries, including at banks, hospitals and government agencies.
Unlike most of the malicious programs which depend on humans to spread them by tricking them into clicking on to an attachment, Ransomware has the ability to move around a network looking for computers to attack.
Wangusi advised against clicking on links or opening files and email attachments from unknown sources. He said people should also look out for attachments that recommend one to enable macros in order to view a file.
"Unless you trust the source, do not enable macros. Instead, delete the email immediately and permanently," Wangusi said without specifying whether the presence of the malware has been reported in Kenya.