Cybercrime rushed into the public spotlight on Friday, when users around the globe were rocked by one of the largest cyberattacks to date. The malicious ransomware attack, which has been aptly named “WannaCry” quickly spread as users unknowingly clicked on an infected link, via vulnerable remote desktop sessions or misconfigured perimeter controls. By the end of the weekend, its effects were incapacitating international government, business and hospital computer systems. Some of the worst hit organizations include Telefonica, Spain’s largest telecom company, Britain’s National Health Service and FedEx.
This attack specifically targets the Microsoft Windows operating system and serves as a strong reminder of the importance of system updates and desktop patching. WannaCry is an attack that has been described as unprecedented in scale, and has infected over 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, but many of the impacted computers could have been spared if they were updated in a timely manner. In fact, Microsoft released a critical patch on March 14, 2017 to remove the underlying vulnerability for supported systems, but many organizations still had not applied it nearly two months after its release.
What is WannaCry?
On a basic level, WannaCry uses a backdoor vulnerability to spread through local networks and remove hosts that have not been updated with the most recent security updates. By accessing these exposed devices, the cryptoworm can directly infect any exposed systems. Organizations and individuals still running older, unsupported operating systems, like Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, were initially at a higher risk for infection, but Microsoft has since released updates to protect these users.
How to Protect Your Organization from WannaCry
To protect your organization from WannaCry and other cyberattacks, it is imperative that your systems are kept up-to-date and that a multi-level cybersecurity approach is in place. By following industry best practices and putting multiple barriers between a threat and your network, your business is able to have confidence in the resilience of your IT environment and the security of your information.
While the immediate effects of WannaCry are beginning to fade, variants of this threat are already being developed. Modern organizations need to adopt the mindset that a breach or attack is coming; no organization is too small to feel the impact of cybercrime.
YJT Solutions has a strategic partnership with the industry leader in Managed Detection and Response, eSentire, and is offering access to two free cyber-crime focused whitepapers: The ABC’s Of A Technology Breach & We’ve Been Breached: Now What. These reports explore the basic tactics used by cyber criminals and outline specific steps you can take to secure your data, both before and after a breach.