By now, unless you are living on another planet, you must have heard of the WannaCry ransomware. It ranks as one of the most effective pieces of malware in the internet’s history, and it has everyone worried about what’s coming next. To guard yourself, the best place to start is with a better understanding of what made WannaCry different.
Ransomware is a specific type of malware program that either encrypts or steals valuable data and threatens to erase it or release it publicly unless a ransom is paid. We’ve been writing about this terrifying threat for years, but never has it been as dangerous as it is now. 2015 saw a huge spike in the popularity of ransomware, and for the 1st time healthcare providers became common targets. By the end of 2016 ransomware had become a multi-billion-$-a-year industry worldwide by adding small business to its list of targets.
The WannaCry ransomware
Although the vast majority of ransomware programs rely on convincing users to click compromised links in emails, the WannaCry version seems to have spread via more technical security gaps. By combining a Windows vulnerability recently leaked from the National Security Agency’s cyber arsenal and some simple programming, WannaCry spread itself further than any malware campaign has in the last 15 years.
The gods must be crazy because within a day of its release, the self-propagating portion of its programming was brought to a halt by an individual unsure of why it included a 42-character URL that led to an unregistered domain. Once he registered the web address for himself, WannaCry stopped spreading.
Unfortunately, that didn’t help the thousands that were already infected. And it definitely doesn’t give you an excuse to ignore what cybersecurity experts are saying, “This is only the beginning.” WannaCry was so poorly written, it’s amazing it made it as far as it did. And considering it would’ve made hundreds of millions of dollars if it was created by more capable programmers, your organization needs to prepare for the next global cyberattack.
Here’s your To Do list:
- Review the logs and reports from your perimeter security systems. Critical vulnerabilities can be gleaned from these documents.
- Continuously check for updates and security patches for every single piece of software in your office, from accounting apps to operating systems.
- Train employees to recognize suspicious links. This is a surefire strategy for avoiding the thousands of other malware strains that threaten your business every day.
- And we can’t say enough about having a working backup.
Your Take Away …
We’ve been in the industry long enough to know that it takes only one mistake to bring your operations to a halt. For daily monitoring and support, plus industry-leading cybersecurity advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Call Bob at 604.270.1730.
Bob Milliken is the TheITguy@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com specializing in helping businesses with their IT needs. Discover how great local IT services can be 604.270.1730.