On May 12th, one the largest ransomware attacks to date hit 150 countries. The ransomware attack has been named WannaCrypt or WannaCry. WannaCry infected global companies such as Spain’s Telefonica, Federal Express, Nissan and Renault. The hardest hit was the U.K.’s National Health Services where attackers threatened to delete their files unless they paid a ransom of $300 bitcoins to the hackers. Many of the medical procedures had to be canceled or postponed since the hospitals were not able to access medical records, etc.
The machines that were most impacted were Windows XP, Windows 2003/2008 and outdated operating systems. This type of malware acts like a worm, spreading through a network with security holes in them. Microsoft released security patches as a result of this cyberattack. Based on news reports, the number of infected computers varies from 200,000-300,000 causing havoc for businesses as well as government entities. Companies are urged to contact officials if they been compromised. There has been speculations that some companies will not go public about their network being breached thus making it hard to know an accurate count of how many businesses were infected by the cyberattack.
One of the ways a cyberattack like WannaCry gets into your network is by using a common phishing tactic such as a malicious email attachment. Once the email attachment is opened, it encrypts the hard drive making it almost impossible to access or retrieve anything on that drive unless the victim pays a ransom in bitcoins in exchange for a de-encryption key. (Bitcoin is currently valued at 1 bitcoin equalling $1768 USD.) Even if you pay the ransom, it’s possible for the cyber criminals to extort again.
Given the rise in ransomware and other malware attacks, it’s of utmost importance to follow the fundamentals of protecting your data and network. Give us a call if we can help or you would like to learn more about our data security suite. Also, we recommend that you take our free network security test here.