Health Care

How to protect yourself from ransomware attacks

How to protect yourself from ransomware attacks

Below are a few excerpts from the article, "3 Steps to Protect Critical Business Data from WannaCry Ransomware Attack".

It was widely speculated that ATM machines running on legacy operating systems would be the next target.

As the situation unfolds - with latest reports pointing the finger of accusation toward North Korea - the question remains: why was the NHS so vulnerable to Wannacry? Since most of their machines were running the out-dated and no longer supported operating system, the WannaCry malware attack exploited lapses in XP.

WannaCry uses an exploit known as EternalBlue-developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and leaked online previous year by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers.

"What really makes the magnitude of this attack so much greater than any other is that the intent has changed from information stealing to business disruption", said Samil Neino, 32, chief executive of Los Angeles-based Kryptos Logic. Given the huge capabilities of the cyber arsenal, the NSA reportedly warned Microsoft about the theft, but chose not to inform the public about the potential dangers. Many people, he said, run pirated versions of Microsoft operating systems because they feel they can not afford the real thing. Even though there are ways to install the latest updates on updates on Windows which are not genuine, Microsoft is also implementing restrictions every once in a while, so depending on the release, it could be more or less hard to patch a pirated Windows copy.

Among the Windows version affected include Windows 8, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, according to CNet. However, for computer users with WindowsXP, there was no patch because Microsoft had ended support for that OS in 2014.

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The company made the expensive patch for old software such as Windows XP free of charge at around midnight local time on Friday, though that was too late to contain the WannaCry outbreak. The need of the hour is to have an worldwide convention on cyber law and cyber security.

High-profiles attacks like WannaCry "drive the market", Ilex International president Laurent Gautier told AFP. Even those computers for which the security updates or patches were not applied have been affected.

The WannaCry virus targetted a government-run hospital in Ganjam district, Odisha, PTI reported.

In what experts called an unprecedented mass cyberattack using ransomware, more than 200,000 computers around the world were hacked beginning Friday using a security flaw in Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, an older version that was no longer given mainstream tech support by the U.S. giant. In the case of ransomware, it encrypts and locks files. It's a warning that cyber attacks soon may be as frequent as, well, the scenario played out in Groundhog Day, thanks to a top-secret agency tasked with keeping us safe. That so many computers were susceptible to the Wannacry virus two months after Microsoft's patch is shocking, showing that top-level employees either don't understand the risk or don't care. He says the attack "provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", noting that, earlier this year, WikiLeaks posted vulnerabilities that had been stored by the Central Intelligence Agency. Perhaps, an indication that the technology industry is now willing to take government-embarrassing methods to resist the surveillance agencies' desire to exploit or insert vulnerabilities in industry products.

"Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage", wrote Microsoft's Brad Smith. "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

As per a Reuters report, the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit research institute forecasts that losses arising from this cyber attack would be within $1 billion. Enterprises need to reassess the security program and strengthen detection, prevention and response capabilities to counter such attacks.

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