This past week we saw how criminals took advantage of the unauthorized release of NSA computer hacking tools and created a ransomware called WannaCry. These criminals then infected computers in over 150 countries. They certainly disrupted the day-to-day operations of these businesses, even if they didn’t collect a ransom or destroy files - and plenty of companies paid the ransom.
One of the organizations that was victimized was the NHS - the national hospital system in Britain. I happened to be in the UK when it hit, and saw on the news that non-emergency patients were turned away because the computer systems weren’t available. Some of these patients had waited months for their appointments, and were understandably very unhappy and anxious about having to reschedule tests and procedures.
And the victims weren’t all big organizations. The attackers scanned the internet looking for computers that were running Windows XP, 8, and Server 2003 and had the SMB port open. That’s a lot of computers in a lot of businesses large and small.
What could happen to your business if you had to stop to deal with an ransomware attack? Ransomware attacks are increasing and with the release of the NSA hacking tools, we’re going to see more.
There are some very general and simple steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Keep your computers patched. Microsoft released a new patch to protect against this particular vulnerability, but you should always keep your computers patched.
- Run supported operating systems. Microsoft discontinued support for XP, but they released a patch for WannaCry. Download and install it if you are running XP. Then, upgrade to a supported version of Windows.
- Backup your systems. A good, recent backup will let you get back up and running in minutes. Not having a backup may mean you lose your data forever. Is that a risk you want to accept when backups are easy and inexpensive?
- Manage the use of privileged accounts. Implement the principle of least privilege. No users should be assigned administrative access unless absolutely needed. Those with a need for administrator accounts should only use them when necessary.
All of these steps are fairly easy for the average business owner to do on their own, but they are also very easy and relatively inexpensive to outsource as well. Give us a call 1-888-994-9446 or email us if you’d like to learn how we can help keep your business safe from attacks like WannaCry.
Please check out this article if you’d like to learn how this attack was stopped. It is written by the security researcher who stopped the spread of the attack.